By Jasmine Willis
WAYLAND — All over the nation communities gathered to honor our American Flag.
National Flag Day honors the Flag Resolution of 1777. The Stars and Stripes originated as a result of a resolution adopted by the Marine Committee of the Second Continental Congress at Philadelphia on June 14, 1777. The resolution read: "Resolved, that the flag of the United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field representing a new constellation.”
Today, we honor Flag Day by retiring old worn and torn flags throughout the community. We replace those flags with fresh new ones to fly with pride. The Wayland American Legion held its Flag Day and Students to Soldiers Send Off Ceremony on June 14.
Post Commander Kevin Mark thanked everyone for showing their patriotism to this country and their flag.
“Happy 244thbirthday to the United States Army. Happy 73rdBirthday to President Donald Trump,” he said. “These flags of our country have been inspected and judged to be no longer serviceable. They have reached their present state in proper service of tribute, memory, and love. A flag may be a flimsy bit of printed gloss or a beautiful banner of finest silk. Its trusted value may be trifle or great. Its real value is beyond price. The precious symbol that we and all our comrades have worked for, lived for, and died for. A free nation of free men and women.”
The Seniors to Soldiers honored at the event are; Louis Payne, US Air Force, Arkport Central, Ships July 1; Owen Snyder, US Army ROTC at Niagara University, Wayland- Cohocton Central, Starts September; Nathen Smalt, US Navy, Wayland-Cohocton, Ships March 10,2020; Cody Baltz, US Army, Wayland-Cohocton, Ships July 16; Derek Cheasman, US Marines, Wayland-Cohocton, Ships Aug. 14; Max Connor, US Air Force, Dansville Central, Ships July 30; 2ndLt. John Paul Holubek, Army Reserves, 770th Combat Engineers, Penn Yan, went to Wayland-Cohocton, studied at Alfred State College two years, has been in Army Reserves for three years.
“We started this event 10 years ago as a way to send off the boys and girls who were going into the service. When we went into service we were never thanked, and we never had anything like this for us. We were just kicked out to the military and never given anything,” Mark said. “We started this as a way to honor the students. We wanted to make sure they were thanked. We wanted to give them what we never had.”
Rochelle Hoffmeister, American Legion Ladies Auxiliary member gave American Flags to each of the student soldiers for the first time this year. Each of the mothers were given a blue star to take home for their military sons.
“We all have sons and daughters in the military. We now welcome you into the military family. No matter where you placed in your graduating class it doesn’t matter. There are 73 percent of graduating seniors who don’t make it into the military for whatever reason. You are part of the 27 percent across the nation of your graduating class that made it. That is a very powerful message,” she said. “Grab all the skills and training you can throughout your military experience. You can take all of what you learn with you throughout your entire life.”
Leeann Perkowski, American Legion Junior Auxiliary member was honored at the event for all the work she has done with veterans. She was given a bouquet of white flowers from Dogwood Floral Company.
“I have a program that I started six years ago called Students For Soldiers. I started it when I was in sixth grade, because I was inspired by my cousin who had just returned home from being deployed in Afghanistan. He was so thrilled to see us but was also thankful to my parents for sending him a care package,” she said. “I grew up in a three-generation military family. It has taught me exactly how important it is to support our troops. Growing up in this very legion I have seen all the events that have gone on.”
Perkowski works hard on the Students For Soldiers drive for about a month getting as many donations as she can at the school and legion for care packages. These go out to our hometown heroes who are in need of some remembrance of home.
Paul Holubek, John Paul’s father, said he and his wife are very proud of their son for continuing the family military legacy.
“It is in the genes. His father, grandpa, and great uncles all went into the military. My grandpa even served in the Austria military before coming to the United States. My dad and uncle served in World War Two together. My uncle was in the medical unit on Omaha Beach. He was wounded in Normandy. My dad had to go to England to take care of his brother,” he said. “My son comes from a long line of military men. He has done us all proud. He always did a great job in school too. He was in the National Honor Society. He was on the Champion Swim Team. He was a student pilot and rode a motorcycle before he learned how to drive a car.”
Holubek added that he and his son joined the Springwater Legion Riders together, and they have a lot of fun bonding on those rides.
“He had his military ball and commission in May. He walked down his graduation with his 95-year-old grandma and danced with her for the first dance. He is now a 2ndLieutenant for the 770thCombat Engineers Unit. His unit has always really liked him. He has always been one of the good ones,” he said. “Once he finishes up with his commitments, he will have 10 years in the US Army. He also helps out at the Bath VA Hospital. We also made those metal poppies together at the Mount Morris BOCES. I made mine in honor of my dad and uncle from World War Two. He made his in honor of his Sarge who died of cancer.”
Holubek said the students like his son who join the military deserve to have this honor.
“These kids deserve to have this support from the community. Not many students go into the military anymore. Most of them go to college or start a job. I think it should be mandatory that they all have to put in at least two years into the military after high school,” he said. “My son went into the military, but also went to college. He got his associate degree and bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering at Alfred State College.”