Beaming with patriotism and proudly hoisting small American flags, students from various Malverne schools came together Tuesday morning to honor the Stars and Stripes.
A class of fifth graders from Our Lady of Lourdes School marched up Park Boulevard, down Utterby Road and headed to the gazebo near the Malverne Train Station to participate in the village's annual Flag Day ceremony on June 14, joining other local kids.
As they rounded the corner to Church Street, a peppy John Philip Sousa number partially drowned out their happy voices, as well as the chatter of the rest of the community members who had gathered at Reese Park. The event is sponsored every year by Malverne’s American Legion Post 44, but it was the students who did much of the teaching about the importance of respecting the American flag.
The ceremony commenced once the 11:02 a.m. train had honked a few times and rumbled away, with the playing of The Star Spangled Banner. The students from Our Lady of Lourdes, joined by others from Grace Lutheran and Howard T. Herber Middle schools, stood promptly and placed their hands over their hearts, but not before sticking their American flags in the ground and making sure they weren’t touching the grass.
The students' voices were the clearest throughout the National Anthem and the Pledge of Allegiance, the words fresh in their heads after reciting both that very morning at school.
The American Legion announced the three winners of their annual essay contest, titled “What the flag means to me.” For Isaiah Benson, the winner from Grace Lutheran, the flag symbolizes all American freedoms, from speech to happiness to justice by “our great police,” a shout-out that made the officers in the audience smile.
Our Lady of Lourdes winner Brett Carpentieri compared the teamwork and leadership of the armed forces to baseball, explaining, “it takes the same qualities to win at baseball as it does to be a soldier.”
“Our history is as colorful as the flag itself,” said Herber Middle School essay winner Jonathan Shields, who sees the flag as a symbol of increasing strength over time, stating, “…for every flap in the wind makes our nation stronger.”
Malverne Mayor Patricia Norris McDonald commended the students and their parents and teachers, saying, “What you’re doing at home and at school resonates…I couldn’t have said it better myself.”
The ceremony ended with selected Davison Avenue School students singing “You’re a Grand Old Flag.” Each essay winner was presented with a savings bond, certificate, and an American flag.