West Hartford’s Norfeldt Elementary School invited a group of veterans as their special guests on Friday.
By Ronni Newton
West Hartford’s Norfeldt Elementary School dedicated their morning to veterans in the community, hosting a breakfast and a ceremony to honor 18 veterans who were invited to attend by students.
Marc Giammatteo is a retired captain in the U.S. Army, and the parent of Isla, a fourth grader at Norfeldt. He was thrilled to attend the breakfast and ceremony – which had not been held in person for the past several years due to COVID-19 – for the first time.
“I very much feel the love that is coming from the school and the student body,” he said. Giammatteo, who was wounded in combat while serving as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom, received a medical discharge – and a Purple Heart, which he brought to show to the students.
Bob Baker, a retired Air Force captain during the Vietnam War, was invited to attend the breakfast and ceremony at Norfeldt by his grandson, Callan, who is a first grader. His wife, Wendy, formerly taught at Norfeldt and he said he attended the event about 10 years ago before moving to New Hampshire.
“It’s great,” said Joe Leone, whose grandson, second-grader Matteo, invited him to attend Friday. Leone, who is retired from the Navy, said last year he sent in his photo because the event wasn’t able to be held in person.
Second grader Landon Battle had two special guests for Veterans Day. His father, Nicholas Battle, is still on active duty with the Air Force and is the local commander of the Defense Control Management Agency (DCMA), and his mother, Lillian Battle, is retired from the Air Force. “Last year we got to watch it online,” Lillian Battle said, but this year they were very glad to attend.
“It’s all about you – and making sure you feel honored and respected today,” Norfeldt Principal Jen Derick told the veterans.
After enjoying breakfast, the veterans filed into the gym as the anthems for each branch of the service played and the entire Norfeldt community clapped.
Students Jada Ferreira, Ian Kennedy, and Eva Peterson sang the National Anthem and the student council president led the pledge of allegiance. Kindergarten students shared a “Thank You Veterans” poem, and a group of 11 second graders shared “Eleven Facts About Veterans Day” – with the entire audience repeating “Remember the No. 11” after each fact. Nov. 11, which was originally called Armistice Day to mark the end of World War I, has been observed as a holiday to honor veterans since 1919.
After fourth graders participated in a flag folding presentation, each veteran was individually honored by the student who invited them and presented with a special pin.
Activities honoring veterans were held at all of the town’s public schools on Friday, and the town also commemorated the day with the annual ceremony and laying of a wreath at the Veterans Memorial in West Hartford Center.
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