Veterans Day marked by citywide celebrations

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Suffolk News-Herald

As American flags waved magnificently against the Suffolk skyline, people gathered at events across the city yesterday to pay tribute to the veterans who served this country’s armed forces.

Dozens of veterans and residents turned out for the special Veterans Day ceremony held annually at Cedar Hill Cemetery by American Legion Post #57 and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2582. The organizations are carrying on a tradition that began 84 years ago when the first ceremony was held on Nov. 11, 1918.

Email newsletter signup

The Rev. Michael D. Halley opened the service with an invocation. Throughout the ceremony, there were moments of reverence recognizing our military men and women, none more poignant than the playing of &uot;Taps&uot; by Mary William Baines.

Suffolk Mayor E. Dana Dickens III remarked later in the day that democracy reigns on lands consecrated by the extraordinary sacrifice of ordinary men and women who served in the United States Armed Forces.

&uot;We call these special people ‘veterans’,&uot; he said. &uot;We give them credit, and we thank them every day of our lives.&uot;

Thanking veterans was also the theme of the day in Suffolk Public Schools and at Nansemond-Suffolk Academy as students celebrated the occasion with plays and artwork.

At Elephant’s Fork Elementary School, the Student Council Association sponsored a &uot;memory wall&uot; to honor all veterans related to students and staff at the school.

Second-graders at Kilby Shores Elementary School performed in honor of four KSES staff members, spouses of military personnel, and parents/grandparents who have served or are currently serving in the military. A special poem was read during the morning announcements, and students studied the history of Veterans Day. They also wrote on what freedom means to them.

Students at Nansemond Parkway Elementary went all out in their celebration of our nation’s unsung heroes. Their morning assembly included a color guard with representatives from all branches of the Armed Forces, and the third grade students performed in a patriotic program, &uot;My Country.&uot; Under the direction of music teacher Kathy Owens, the children were Yankee Doodle Dandy in their red, white and blue costumes. There was even an American Cowboy, Tommy Fritzinger, who sang &uot;Home on the Range.&uot; Two students, Harini Barot and Michael Campbell, dressed as young Americans. Other students dressed the part and danced to &uot;Yankee Doodle.&uot;

The resplendent color guard carrying the U.S. flag and flags of every branch of military service took center stage. After presentation of colors, voices singing &uot;God Bless the U.S.A.&uot;

and &uot;God Bless America&uot; echoed through the auditorium.

The message of the play was that America is a land of freedom, liberty and opportunity. The entire play was a small slice of Americana including the songs &uot;This is My Country,&uot; &uot;This Land is Your Land,&uot; &uot;Yankee Doodle,&uot; &uot;Home on the Range,&uot; &uot;Polly Wolly Doodle,&uot; &uot;Skip To My Lou,&uot; and &uot;Battle Hymn of the Republic.&uot; The five branches of Armed Forces were honored with songs from each corps including the Army’s &uot;The Caissons Keep Rolling Along,&uot; the &uot;Marine Hymn,&uot; the Navy’s &uot;Anchor’s Away&uot; and the Air Force anthem, &uot;Semper Paratus.&uot;

Following the play, two of the servicemen stayed to speak to the third-grade students about their military careers.

Nansemond-Suffolk Academy President Douglas C. Naismith welcomed NSA Lower and Upper School students and special guests Tuesday to the school’s Veterans Day assembly. Naismith recognized the 10 NSA employees who are veterans.

People who live at Lake Prince Retirement Center joined the assembly as special guests.

The keynote speaker for the Veterans Day Assembly was Commander Karen DiRenzo, NC, USN.

Commander DiRenzo is a 19-year veteran of the United States Navy Nurse Corps and serves as the Service Line Leader for Urgent and Emergent Care of Naval Medical Center Portsmouth. An Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran, she deployed with the first Navy Echelon Three Medical Facility to be established in a war zone.

Commander DiRenzo holds graduate degrees from California College of Health Science and the United Sates Naval War College.

Commander DiRenzo lives in Suffolk with her husband, Joseph, and their two children. Their daughter, Lauren, is in the seventh grade at NSA and their son, Joey, is a sophomore.

T.J. Chrissley, a fourth-grader at NSA, made a special presentation to Naismith on behalf of his father Frank Chrissley, who serves as NSA’s director of transportation, housekeeping and security. He was called to active duty with the Air Force on Sept. 1, and is stationed in Qatar while serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom. He sent NSA a framed American Flag that was flown over Iraq as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom

Students in the NSA Extended Care program have been working to make Veterans Day special for local veterans. Students in the program range from ages 4 to 12 and they have been making homemade greeting cards and cookies to be sent to the Veteran’s Hospital in Hampton and a 12-foot banner that will displayed at the Norfolk Naval Base.