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Patriotism On Parade As Staten Island Students Honor Veterans

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — With Memorial Day weekend almost upon us, some Staten Island students spent the day saluting America’s heroes.

As CBS 2’s Dick Brennan reported, students at St. Adalbert Catholic School have been raising money to make sure our war veterans get the credit they deserve.

“We show how much we respect them and how much we’re grateful for their sacrifice,” said student Eric DeBenedetto.

“I think it’s exciting. I love to see the veterans,” said student Megan Broze.

Students also gathered to salute a fallen soldier, Staff Sgt. Michael Ollis, who was killed this summer in Afghanistan.

Proceeds from the event will go to build a memorial in his memory.

Ollis’ family raised half of the $40,000 needed. His father offered a flag to the school principal in a show of appreciation to the school.

“In honor of Michael and all of the things you have done for us. Thank you very, very much,” he said.

And the students have done so much more, even regularly sending care packages to soldiers overseas, Brennan reported.

“There were young men I was serving with over in Afghanistan that got absolutely no mail all year-long other than the packages that I shared with them from St. Adalberts,” said U.S. Army Major Roderick Cassidy. “And they were sending us their good wishes and their prayers, and there’s nothing more than warriors deployed need than prayers.”

Prayers and a sense that a nation is behind them, even when they are thousands of miles away — beyond Memorial Day and Veterans Day.

“The nice thing about this school is that patriotism is not a twice a year event. It is really intermingled into every aspect of our school life,” said Principal Diane Hester Hagen.

It’s also something near and dear to kids who seem to have an understanding well beyond their years.

“They don’t know me personally and yet they were willing to fight for the freedoms that I have right now and it means a lot to me,” said student Broze.

The entire school gathers twice a year to honor veterans for their service. Everything from the event was donated by the St. Adalbert School community.

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