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Sayreville students taught importance of the American flag

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SAYREVILLE – Pupils of the Harry S. Truman Elementary School in the Sayreville School District were taught the importance and value of the United States flag.

In preparation for Flag Day, which is marked annually on June 14, the Truman School hosted a Flag Day celebration on June 13. Veterans from the American Legion Lenape Post 211 were present at the event.

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“We [the veterans] are going to talk about the flag and what it represents,” said veteran Rich Kosmoski, who also serves as the co-chair of the Sayreville Veterans Alliance. “We look at why we fought for the flag and why these guys [in the armed forces] gave their lives for it.”

Veteran Ed Strek, who has been with the legion for 30 years, estimated that the Flag Day celebration has taken place at Truman School for 20 years.

Following a performance from the Sayreville War Memorial High School band, Truman School Principal Timothy Byrne provided background on Flag Day.

“The stars and stripes mean a great deal for us as Americans,” Byrne said. “We have a great privilege.”

After Byrne’s introduction, second grade pupil Cecilia Caruso, the daughter of high school band director Paul Caruso, sang the National Anthem.

Kosmoski spoke about the importance of the flag, reading a first-person description told from the flag’s perspective.

“[The flag] represents peace, honor, truth and justice,” Kosmoski said. “[The flag] stands for freedom [and] bows to no one.”

When discussing desecration and destruction of the flag, Kosmoski said such actions did not hurt it.

“[The flag] is invincible,” the veteran said.

Kosmoski cited the flag being used to bandage injuries and comforting families who lost relatives in the armed forces as examples of its finest hours.

“Freedom is something we can’t take for granted,” Byrne said. “You [the pupils] have to carry that tradition.”

Veterans of the American Legion introduced themselves to the pupils at the celebration, including Strek, Walter Twardos, Larry Lios, Frank Sullivan, Stanley Drawl and Art Valentino.

To honor fallen members of the armed forces, Twardos and Lios had the American flag in front of the elementary school flown at half-staff.

Near the end of the celebration, pupils in the Truman School Chorus, under the direction of music teacher Jennifer Swenticky, gave a performance of their own.

As the event concluded, Valentino informed the pupils of the proper way to retire the flag, which was to burn it in a special ceremony. Valentino said the flag was not allowed to be thrown out or to touch the ground.

Contact Matthew Sockol at msockol@newspapermediagroup.com.

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