Flags for Freedom

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With the colors of the American flag as a backdrop, Locust Valley High School seniors each received their own flag during the second annual Memorial Day Remembrance Assembly. The gifts, offered by Operation Democracy, have special meaning as they were folded and handed to each senior by local veterans.

Kaye Weninger of Operation Democracy organized the assembly in conjunction with high school social studies coordinator David Ethé. The event 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.

Guest speaker, retired United States Marine Corps Lt. Col. David Gurfein, reiterated this sentiment saying that the reason soldiers have fought is so that we can enjoy the freedoms that we have now. He pointed out that having barbecues and celebrating with family are privileges we have because of the fallen soldiers we honor on Memorial Day. “We celebrate in their honor,” he said. He also told the seniors that those who are capable of serving their country, must do so and that it doesn’t have to mean enlisting in the military. “Think about how you can serve your country,” he said. “Those who are capable have an obligation to serve those who are less capable. The military is just one way of doing so.”

Ms. Weninger said that she started this program so students will never forget those who sacrificed their lives in order to give us a better life. Her words were echoed by High School Principal, Dr. Kieran McGuire, who read a statement written by Mr. Ethé who could not be present as he was serving his country as a juror. “We owe them first a promise: That just as they did not forget their missing comrades, neither, ever, will we.”

The Locust Valley American Legion Post 962 opened the ceremony with the presentation of colors and then took seats on stage as the honored guests, along with other retired members of the military.

The high school concert chorale performed “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “America, of Thee I Sing.”  Carmine, Francesco, Leonardo and Marconi D’Auria-Gupta performed “God Bless America.” Seniors Jessica Cameron and Brian Wright shared readings about the American flag.

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