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PS 204 salutes veterans

True blue: Gabriella Cassis salutes during the Pledge of Allegiance at a PS-IS 204 party honoring U.S. combat veterans.
Photo by Arthur De Gaeta

Give these kids an “A” in patriotism.

Students at PS 204 took some time from their school day to honor veterans during the Bensonhurst school’s annual Salute to Veterans on May 29. Kids showed the perfect level of patriotism and respect, one attendee said.

“I went World War II — the occupation, the liberation, all that — so I’m not crazy about war, but this was beautiful,” said Herta Tortora, a Bavarian-born Sunset Parker whose husband served during World War II. “I think it’s wonderful to see so much patriotism, and mentioning god and country is so beautiful — you don’t hear that any more.”

Now in it’s 11th year, the annual salute grew out of the school chorus’s regular recital. Kids took up a patriotic theme in their recital more than 10 years ago, and the songs were so moving, the faculty decided to invite veterans to enjoy the music.

“When we saw it, we said, ‘This has to go somewhere — its beautiful,’ so we invited the veterans,” said pre-K teacher Kathleen Conlon.

Hero’s welcome: Susan Porcella, a police officer in the 68th Precinct, high-fives students. The school honored Porcella for her effort to save a despondent 84-year-old war veteran on the verge of suicide.
Photo by Arthur De Gaeta

Korean War veteran Joseph Schick was delighted by the performance.

“Those kids really put on a great show. It was wonderful,” he said.

Students also honored police officers from the nearby 68th Precinct. Fifth-graders sang a parody of “New York, New York,” and pre-Kindergarten kids sang a parody of “I’m a Little Teapot” for the men and women in blue, Conlon siad.

The day wasn’t just for servicemen and women. Many students anticipate the day, too, one parent and vet said.

“It’s an absolutely wonderful day — my daughter looks forward to the assembly every year,” said veteran Peter Meberg. “I was in the Navy for ten years, and she likes to spread it around.”

Company, halt!: A platoon of students keep veteran Henry Tortora company during the ceremony.
Photo by Arthur De Gaeta

Reach reporter Max Jaeger at mjaeger@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–8303. Follow him on Twitter @JustTheMax.

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