Locust Valley High School seniors each received an early graduation present that may hold more meaning than anything else they will receive. Local veterans presented each senior with an American flag in honor of Memorial Day. 

The Memorial Day Remembrance Assembly, sponsored by Operation Democracy, was designed to educate the seniors about flag etiquette, the history of the flag and, most importantly, to remind students that the freedoms they have are because of the sacrifices made by members of the military.

Kaye Weninger of Operation Democracy organized the assembly in conjunction with high school social studies coordinator David Ethé. Invited guests included members of the Locust Valley and Bayville American Legions, members of the Veterans Corps: 9th Field Artillery Regiment and guest speaker Ensign Max Caballero, U.S. Coast Guard.

Ensign Caballero spoke to the high school seniors about his experiences in the Coast Guard, and said that the flags the students were receiving were a symbol of America and of many great things. He said he hoped it would remind them “of the patriotic values that are inherent to being a citizen.” Ensign Caballero and Commander Cory Barker demonstrated the proper way to fold a flag. 

Weninger said that she started this program to present students with a beautiful symbol of our country.  “This program will teach Americanism, patriotism and to never forget,” she said. Bayville resident Gerry Dolezar was instrumental in helping Operation Democracy bring this program to the high school. He and Weninger said they hope to see it continue in Locust Valley and grow to other schools. 

The Howard Van Wagner Post 62 opened the ceremony with the presentation of colors. Members of the post folded each of the flags presented to the seniors. Commander Bob Harrington said, “This is a beautiful symbol of your country – respect and honor it.”

The high school concert chorale performed “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “I Hear America Sing.” Senior Joseph Tancredi sang a beautiful rendition of “America the Beautiful.” Tancredi and fellow senior Kimmie Sabio read poems and passages about the history of the flag’s colors, stripes and meaning. 

The district thanks all the guests and organizers who made the ceremony special for the graduating seniors.