The Beecher Road School community paid tribute to veterans and their service on Veterans Day, with some veterans present as guests of honor. Veterans Day has become a “powerful day of learning,” since the district decided to make it a school day, said Woodbridge Supt. Dr. Guy Stella, and he challenged students to reflect on what they heard and take it home. He also thanked the students for writing hundreds of cards and letters to veterans.
Principal Gina Prisco had initiated that project, and had delivered the notes to the VA hospital in West Haven, where they will be added to veterans’ lunch trays. Dr. Stella said some of the veterans were so grateful for the notes they expressed the wish to attend future Veterans Day events at the school.
The whole school assembled in front of the North entrance, with the band and color guard on the far side of the flagpole. First Selectman Ellen Scalettar addressed the school, saying it is a “day our country takes time to thank the men and women in the Armed Forces,” and for the safety and security they provide for us here and around the world. She said nearly 100 years ago the holiday was meant to celebrate the end of a war and “the hope of a lasting peace,” but “we haven’t achieved it yet”.
Army Capt. Dr. Barry Joseph also addressed the assembly, speaking about the significance of Veterans Day. “You don’t have to be in a war to be a veteran,” he explained. Anybody who has worn the uniform of the US military and who was available to be deployed is considered a veteran, he said.
As opposed to Memorial Day, which pays tribute to those who died in action, Veterans Day celebrates all who served. “They don’t talk much about their experiences,” he said, but many “have problems in their life that can be directly tied to their experiences in the war,” he said.
Principal Gina Prisco honored staff members DARE Officer Vinnie Lynch, Brian Hocking and Greg Kula as Veterans. She also greeted the honored guests, in particular:
- Rachel Edwards – Iraq War Veteran – Edwards Family,
- Bill Worth – Navy 1967-1969 – Santulli Family’
- Andrew Muolo – US Army – Inactive – Couch Family’
- William Ledewitz – Army – Baitch Family.
- John Pfannenbecker – Navy 1966-1970 – Pfannenbecker Family.
- Genero Panella – Marine 1960-1966 – Panella Family,
- Peter Falcione – Army – Vietnam, 1968-1970 – Von Beeden Family,
- Paul Dixon – Veteran Korean War – 1953-1955 – Galustian Family,
- Daniel Myott – AirForce – 1958-1960 – Myott Family,
- Roy Ivins – Veteran – Sherman and Zitto Family, and
- John Costello – Airforce –1999 – 1907 – Costello Family.
Fifth Grade teacher Katie McCollum again set up a White Table in the Rotunda. The tradition is based on a children’s book and is now done in every mess hall in memory of those who are missing at the table, she said.
Certain symbolic items are placed on the table, such as a lemon symbolizing the bitterness, salt for the tears, an empty plate or glass, a red rose and a candle symbolizing hope. Each year she reads the story with her class, McCollum said, and they set up a table for other classes to see.