Veterans honored at Nonnewaug High School

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Veterans honored at Nonnewaug High School

BY STEVE BIGHAM REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN

 

Nonnewaug High School student Jeff Stein offers a poppy flower to Woodbury resident and retired U.S. Army Green Beret Bud Neal at Tuesday’s ceremony honoring veterans. Steve Bigham Republican-American

 

WOODBURY — Nonnewaug High School honored military veterans during a ceremony in front of the school under warm, sunny skies Tuesday morning.

The 10:30 a.m. event was held two days before Veterans Day as there is no school on Thursday.

Among the more than a dozen veterans on hand was Region 14’s own Wayne McAllister, an Air Force veteran who now serves as acting superintendent.

McAllister, who served in Vietnam during the early 1970s, spoke to students about the sacrifices made over the years by both U.S. servicemen and their families, many of them affected by the services of multiple generations of sons and daughters.

In particular, McAllister spoke of his great-grandmother, who was a Gold Star mother after losing a son during World War II. She also had three grandsons who served in Korea, as well as her great grandson, McAllister, who said he admired the woman for her zest for life and strength amid adversity.

U.S. Navy veteran Paul Miller was among a group of nearly two dozen veterans and hand Tuesday morning at Nonnewaug High School in Woodbury. Steve Bigham Republican-American

 

McAllister said that while in the service, his great-grandmother would send him letters from home, each containing a $2 bill.

Upon McAllister’s return from Vietnam in 1973, he said he visited the 94-year woman on the family farm in Vermont where the two picked blueberries along a railroad bed and took long walks down meandering dirt roads.

McAllister said the two had lunch then the young man used the $2 bills to buy his great-grandmother a new dress at Sears Roebuck.

Four years later, McAllister said, he attended the woman’s wake and was humbled to see the Gold-Star flag she held in her hand, and the Navy blue and white polka dotted dress he had bought her a few years before.

“She was a great lady and she set the example of how to find the positive in the most tragic events,” McAllister said.

The acting superintendent told students that American servicemen fought to “defend people’s opportunities to be whoever they want to be.”

Tuesday’s ceremony included music from the Nonnewaug High band, orchestra and chorus, as well as speeches from students.

Elizabeth Scalzo reminded her classmates that it is the veteran that gives Americans the freedom to vote, the freedom of religion, the right to assemble and freedom of speech.

Region 14 Acting Superintendent of Schools Wayne McAllister, a Vietnam War veteran, speaks about his personal experiences being part of a family that has served its country for multiple generations, during a Veterans Day ceremony at Nonnewaug High School in Woodbury on Tuesday. Steve Bigham Republican-American

 

“It is the veteran who serves under the flag to be buried under the flag so that protesters can burn the flag,” Scalzo read.

Principal Pam Sordi welcomed veterans, also reminding students that it is because of their service and sacrifice that Americans enjoy freedom.

“Let’s take that with us today and live with that everyday,” Sordi said.

Sordi said having actual veterans on hand for the annual ceremony makes it all that much more real. That included senior Kamden Bushka, who invited along her great uncle, Whitey Zyko, an Army veteran who served in Korea during the 1960s.

Veterans on hand also agreed to take part in videotaped interviews, which Sordi said will be documented and used for education purposes in the years to come.

Following the ceremony, veterans were treated to a breakfast inside the school put on by the Nonnewaug culinary program. There, they mingled with fellow veterans, students and staff members, sharing stories of their military service.