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Written by Ashley Stagnari, FOCUS Newspaper Staff Writer and JJ4Vets member
On Friday, November 9, 2018, the John Jay High School Veterans Club (JJ4Vets) hosted an honorary lunch and ceremony for local veterans. The event included student performances of the national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner,” and “Taps.” Local attendees included John Jay High School Principal Dr. Siciliano, who served in the National Guard; Geoffrey Yorke, U.S. Army; Michael Nigrelli, U.S. Army, Korean War; John Lemke, U.S. Army; Kenneth C. Klotzkin, U.S. Air Force; and Henry Neil, U.S. Marine Corps.
While the veterans wore different badges, the commonality that held together both the youth and servicemen that afternoon was the notion of appreciation and acknowledgement. When asked about the most important moment of the lunch, Principal Dr. Siciliano stated, “Seeing how the new and old generations collaborated and shared their stories with one another.”
From the grueling stories of boot camp and active service to their favorite movies, JJ4Vets club members experienced the chance to share a “thank you” and a personal connection with those who served for our freedom. The local veterans left lasting messages for all generations. As Geoffrey Yorke stated, “our Democracy and freedom didn’t just happen by people and plans back home.” Yorke went on to explain how each flag in the Field of Honor reflected an individual who was willing to put his or her life on the line.
Veteran Kenneth Klotzkin brought forth an imperative message that veterans served for our freedom and opportunity and now it is our turn to serve them through more than a “thank you,” but an act of support to foster their opportunities and welfare.
Veteran Michael Negrelli shared with me the unforgettable lines of former President John F. Kennedy: “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country." These words are not only a call to action to fight, but for present and future generations to keep our veterans’ service and sacrifice alive.
With this in mind, a heartwarming notion that the local veterans and club members shared was how the Field of Honor—the flags waving freely on John Jay high School’s front lawn—were very much alive with the spirit of those who served and those we will never forget.
John Jay for Veterans Club
Advisor: Candy Wilmot
Club Chiefs: Yoni Leiderman and Andrew Matthews