Students of all ages thanked veterans for their service in Trumbull's schools Friday, including at Trumbull High School.
But the message resonated most for the high school seniors, some of whom might become veterans themselves after graduation. The ceremony took place in the THS Auditorium.
Veterans started by sharing their stories of service, from experiences in Greece to Korea and Vietnam.
Bob Lutz, a retired Trumbull Town Auditor for 20 years, said he enjoyed serving because it matures people. "You get away from home. You become more or less independent," he said.
Former First Selectman Ray Baldwin Jr. said he barely finished high school before he joined the U.S. Marine Corps.
After a tour in Vietnam, Baldwin returned home, got an undergraduate degree and a law degree, and became a police officer.
U.S. Army Col. Bill Brown joined the Marine Corps. reserve, which helped put him through law school. After 15 years, he worked his way up to supervisor and saw his first combat stint in 2005 in Afghanistan.
Host and Veteran George Areson noted that the Marine Corps. turns 237 on Nov. 10.
While some people flinch when they hear "Boot Camp," the opposite is true, said Al Zamary, who joined the Marines in 1956.
"I think it was the best training and the best discipline anyone could enjoy," he said. "You won't be sorry."
Town officials also took the stage. Schools Supt. Ralph Iassogna and Asst. Supt. Gary Cialfi said veterans are heroes and allowed all the freedoms in the United States today.
First Selectman Tim Herbst said, "Your service gives all of us strength. America is and will continue to be the hope of the earth."
THS coach Charles Anderson, a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves, said his plans were short term, but that was 26 years ago.
"I was going to be an Army Medic. I was going to do six years and get out."
In basic training, the then-25-year-old learned the hard way to respect his commanding officers. His drill sergeants made him do pushups for talking back and not following orders. And he didn't get a soda (a rare treat in the Army) while his comrades did.
Today he is a leader and has been deployed several times. He tries to teach leadership skills in his classes.
On the downside, he added, every time he sees a flag flying at half-staff, he wonders who might have died.
The veterans at the ceremony were Candace Naude, Kevin Dawid, Rob Stenlake, Jan Ostrander, John Gray, Ernie Stewart, J. Robert Lutz, Tom Lee, Al Zamary, Bill Brown, Robert Barry, Brad Day, George Areson and Ray Baldwin.
Student choirs and the THS Band provided song and music for the ceremony.
Christian Heritage Service
Christian Heritage School, a K-12 non-denominational private institute, also held its annual ceremony, which includes a presentation of names of all the veterans in all of its students' families.
The program began with the presentation of colors by VFW 9460. There were guest presentations by Judy Calandrelli, Civil Air Patrol, from WWII, and Ernest C. Steward, 22nd Bomb Group, WWII.
One hundred thirty-seven veterans were listed in the program from Trumbull. Twenty-three are CHS alumni who have served or are serving.