Field of honor

Lucas Mongiello, a freshman, was one of the first to arrive for John Jay’s Field of Honor ceremony, held on the school’s front lawn. Both of his grandfathers had served and one of them was on his way to the ceremony with his dad, plus Lucas was part of the trio that would be singing the National Anthem to open the ceremony. “It’s a great experience to be here to honor the veterans today,” he said.

This was one of many family ties that enveloped the school’s Veterans Day ceremony, a tribute rich in local roots and community bonds.

Senior Jack Lawton was inspired to become co-president with Andrew Lucassen of JJ4Vets, the school club hosting the ceremony, by his father John Quincy Lawton, a combat veteran of the Coast Guard who did a tour in Iraq, who was also present at the ceremony.

“The Field of Honor is for you,” said Jack and Andrew to the local veterans assembled. They were referring to the backdrop of American flags set up in formation behind them. JJ4Vets also sells flags each November, raising funds to be donated to the Veterans Affairs Hudson Valley Health Care System in Montrose, NY.

This year’s ceremony was the 6th one at John Jay High School. Many of the veterans have been attending each year. This year’s honoree, Colonel Ken Klotzkin, was unable to attend because of recent surgery. Jack and Andrew showed those assembled the commemorative flag they would be sending to him.

Dr. Steven Siciliano, principal of John Jay and a veteran himself, spoke of the family created in the military—the relationships that stay with someone who served for the rest of the life. “Veterans are examples of belonging to something greater than yourself,” he said in his introduction to the ceremony.

The ceremony ended with a Boatswain Call, led by Lawton, a Chief Boatswain Mate, and Marine Scout Sniper (Ret) Simon Oram. The veterans were neighbors and friends, Oram, an alum of John Jay High School, father of a graduate and two children at the middle school.

Lawton played the calls for attention, hand salute, and carry on / dismissed. After each, Oram and the other veterans followed the pipe commands.

Afterwards, Oram chatted with Sean Willman, Marine Signals Intelligence, also a John Jay alum. They called the ceremony awesome.