Writing valentines for veterans of the U.S. military is nothing new for Franklin Avenue Elementary School students.
What they don't always get to do is meet the veterans who receive the valentines.
Franklin Avenue's fourth graders got that opportunity at the Second Annual Valentines for Veterans Celebration Friday at the VFW Ramapo Post 2973 in Suffern.
"I’m thrilled to have them actually see veterans," Franklin Avenue Principal Maureen Alaimo said. "When we usually write the valentines, they are just collected and brought to the veterans. It’s really nice for them to have a face and really see them.
"It’s an important thing that children realize the sacrifice that these men and women made for them."
State Senator David Carlucci (D-Rockland/Orange) hosted the event. Franklin Avenue was just one of 35 schools in Carlucci's district that contributed valentines, with a total of 2,500 donated.
“Each year I look forward to the opportunity to recognize our sacred debt to America’s Veterans and to pass that appreciation on to our children,” Carlucci said. “This program is a welcome reminder to our veterans that your achievements and sacrifices on behalf of this country have not been forgotten.”
In addition to Alaimo, teachers Vivian Pratt, Janet Fenton, Patricia Calise and Glyn Nixon supervised the trip.
"Their teachers are so wonderful," Alaimo said. "They really try to give (the students) a sense of community. Little kids, sometimes, everything is about them. It’s nice for them to realize they are part of a larger community."
Nixon also played the piano as the fourth graders sang four songs for the veterans -- "The Star-Spangled Banner," "America the Beautiful," "God Bless the USA" and "Proud of Our Veterans."
"This is such a great class," Alaimo said. "We've also adopted a nursing home in town (Care One). (The students) have gone around Christmas and Thanksgiving. It's a very soulful fourth-grade class."
State Senator William Larkin, a retired Lt. Colonel in the U.S. Army, and Acting Director of the New York Division of Veteran Reserves William Kraus also attended the event.
To hear a sampling of the songs and more of Carlucci's comments, see the video attached to this report.