The third annual Flags for Freedom ceremony at Locust Valley High School was a patriotic tribute to members of the military and an important lesson for the high school’s graduating seniors. 

Each member of the Class of 2017 received their own hand folded American flag handed to them by local veterans.The flags were a gift from Operation Democracy, the organization that sponsored the assembly in cooperation with high school social studies coordinator David Ethé.

Kaye Weninger, President of Operation Democracy, said that the 160 flags were in honor of 160 fallen veterans. She explained that 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. Ms. Weninger said that she started this program so students will never forget those who sacrificed to give us a better life.

Guest speaker retired United States Navy Seaman Jenna Martin said she entered the military to help people. “A few of the feelings the flag invokes in me are pride, hope and freedom,” she said, before reminding the students that hundreds of thousands of service members have died at the age that they are now.

The Bayville American Legion Robert H. Pittel Post 1285 and Locust Valley American Legion Post 962 opened the ceremony with the presentation of colors and then took seats on stage as honored guests along with two members of the NYPD and NYFD who are also alumni.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Anna F. Hunderfund spoke to the seniors about the importance of Memorial Day and remembering the sacrifices our military makes. Mr. Ethé, Oyster Bay Supervisor Joe Saladino and others shared similar sentiments.

The high school concert chorale performed “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “God Bless America.”  Ernest Scheiferstein, Class of 2013 sang “Bring Him Home” from Les Miserables.

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