Youth Learn How To Honor Veterans

Hugh J. Boyd Elementary School student Cinsear Brown provides his definition of what a veteran is after being called up to the podium during this year’s Veterans Day ceremony hosted by the Seaside American Legion in Seaside Heights. (Photo by Bob Vosseller)

  SEASIDE HEIGHTS – Members of the Seaside American Legion Post #351 have held a Veterans Day service for decades now but this year, they aimed their message of remembering veterans to those who may be serving tomorrow.

  Students of the Hugh J. Boyd Elementary School had a short walk over to the Post to attend the ceremony held outside the monuments.

  Post Commander Bill Kevish, who served in the U.S. Navy was particularly excited about this year’s ceremony because it met the Legion’s mission to not only remember veterans but instill the importance of their service to future veterans and the new generation.

  “I did not think we’d have this many people coming out today to our celebration here,” Kevish said. Hugh J. Boyd Elementary School teachers Nick Walters, who also serves as commander of the Post’s Sons of The American Legion unit, and Marsha Dionisio, brought about two dozen students to observe the service.

Seaside Heights Mayor Anthony Vaz speaks to a large crowd during the annual Seaside American Legion Post 351 Veterans Day service held in front of their building on Veterans Day. (Photo by Bob Vosseller)

  Student Cinsear Brown came to the podium after Post member Ian Worrell asked the students assembled, if any of them would like to come forward and provide a definition of what a veteran is.

  Cinsear said, “a veteran is someone who served in a war and saved our country.”

  “That is a pretty good description,” Worrell said. “You know what else a veteran is? A veteran is someone who loves their country. We are able to do a lot of things in America that other people can’t do.”

  World War II Navy veteran Frank Parese, a long-time member of the Post, offered up his definition: “Veterans are men and women who have served our country in the armed forces. There are about 23 million veterans today. If you have a veteran in your family, ask them to tell you their story. They have many stories to tell. We do not want those stories not told. They must not be forgotten.”

  “We are here today to say thank you and it is an honor to know you. If you are ever in a place where you see a veteran or an active-duty member of the armed forces, please take a moment to say thank you. We owe them for our way of life and a moment of your time is always well spent,” Kevish said.

  Two students were chosen to present wreaths during the ceremony on stands next to the memorial monuments. “Those wreaths will be on display for the rest of the week,” the commander added.

  Borough Mayor Anthony Vaz, who served with the U.S. Army National Guard and who is also a member of the Post spoke about the importance of young people learning American and world history as well as geography.

  “I look back at history and I look at those veterans that are here today. Each one of us served in different capacities. Each one of us took part in basic training and those 16 weeks is a learning curve and life experience. We learned how to respect one another and our patriotism. We learned about command but most of all we learned about the United States of America, the greatest country in the world,” the mayor said.

Seaside American Legion Post Commander Bill Kevish of Seaside Heights, left, and Seaside Park resident Emil Stefanacci who once again portrayed Uncle Sam have a chat before the Post’s annual Veterans Day ceremony. (Photo by Bob Vosseller)

  “(History) taught us about getting along in our own country, even though at times there are conflicts in getting along with other nations. Then we had geography with globes and maps which today are kind of obsolete with our technology,” he said.

  Mayor Vaz recalled that when he was a kid, he didn’t know where countries were that impacted our own nation. But in school we learn about them and their cultures, and how to help other nations.

  “I can say from my heart that someone from Seaside Heights Hugh J. Boyd School someday, will be in the military. That person, might be you, will be called a veteran,” the mayor concluded.

  A familiar face dressed in red, white and blue was Seaside Park resident Emil Stefanacci who portrays Uncle Sam at area Veterans Day, Memorial Day and Independence Day observances. Stefanacci handed out flags to the many attendees that came out including the students from the nearby school.

Photo by Bob Vosseller

  Post member Paul Lerin is another fixture at the Post’s services and sang the “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

  Borough students also made post cards and posters about veterans and America that Kevish said, “were really touching” and would be on display inside the Post’s headquarters.