More than two dozen first-grade students waved American flags during a ceremony Thursday morning where they sang patriotic songs and watched as a flag that once flew over the U.S. Capitol was raised outside Cutchogue East Elementary School.
The Mattituck American Legion helped bring added meaning to Flag Day by presenting the school the special flag as well as donating comic books about the American flag for students.
Kathy Devine, the principal of Cutchogue East, said members of the American Legion had proposed the idea of donating a flag that had flown over the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C.
“At the same time our first-graders were involved in a patriotic concert, where they’re singing all about songs about the flag and about America, so we decided today on Flag Day to combine those two efforts and invite our families along also,” she said. “It also brings a whole new meaning to Flag Day.”
John Ribeiro, commander of the Mattituck American Legion, and Ron Breuer, the vice commander, raised the flag as the students and their families sang patriotic songs like “You’re a Grand Old Flag,” “The Star Spangled Banner,” and “This Land Is Your Land.”
“It was very heartwarming,” Mr. Breuer said. “They really get to know the meaning of the flag, and it’s nice to see Americanism coming out. It was a very diverse group too, and everybody participated very well.”
The legion also presented Sgt. Michael DiSilvio, whose son Raylan is a first-grader at Cutchogue East, with a flag for his service. Sgt. DiSilvio served in the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division from 2007-’08 and was wounded several times in Afghanistan.
“I was in the 506th Infantry Regiment, the famous Band of Brothers unit,” Sgt. DiSilvio said. “After I was wounded in Afghanistan my country actually took great care of me. I got a full pension, retirement, Raylan was actually born when I was in the Wounded Warrior Center recovering, so he grew up with me and saw a lot of difficulties. The V.A. has taken very good care of me, our country has and Congressman Lee Zeldin.”
Lisa Dabrowski, the legion’s public information officer, said that Mr. Zeldin was a big help obtaining the flag.
“We actually had a special presentation ceremony last week for two Mattituck High School students who are being sponsored to attend the American Legion’s Boys State program, and while there, Congressman Zeldin brought us the flag which we have here today,” she said.
Mr. Ribeiro said he was impressed with the ceremony and the kids.
“When you mention Flag Day, it’s also the birthday of the U.S. Army, and we’re all Army guys,” he said. “They put together a nice show, and Congressman Zeldin was a lot of help getting the flag.”
Top photo caption: Students wave their flags at Thursday’s ceremony. (Credit: Erika Peters)