WAYLAND — There were several things that made this year’s Flag Day unique in the hearts and minds of a small military community.
The Wayland American Legion honored 242 years of America’s Army, every senior to soldier signed up for the US Air Force, and most of them were women. Also the community thanked an autistic boy with a big heart.
Jacob Vivirito, 9, of Naples raised $1,436 all by himself for homeless veterans in 2016. The Wayland American Legion welcomed him to his first ever Flag Day Ceremony.
“He has a lot of respect for them,” Stacy Vivirito, Jacob’s mother said. “He raised all the money from his front yard. He had a sign up for donations to homeless veterans and played music.”
Vivirito said that although her son has autism he has been very focused on helping veterans.
“He shakes the hands of every veteran he sees,” she said. “My father and grandfather are veterans, so he understands what they do. He was very excited to be invited to this ceremony. He will come back again next year. He wants to play Taps for the ceremony next year.”
All of the money he raised was given to the Canandaigua Veterans Hospital for homeless veterans.
“He has asked me to stop the car, and give his allowance to a homeless veteran,” Vivirito said. “He asks if the person is a veteran, and hands him five dollars. He thanks him for his service, and tells him to get something to eat.”
As of now Jacob is concerned about hungry children in Naples, and that may be where his next donation will go towards.
Post Commander Kevin Mark said that the legion is always proud to support the flag retirement ceremony and what it represents.
“We go through the community and take care of the flags as much as we can,” he said. “This ceremony replaces the flags, and respectively disposes of the ones that are worn through the year.”
Flag Day is celebrated at several legions throughout the country, but Wayland American Legion adds something special to it every year. Seniors to Soldiers is an event that comes after the ceremony to honor the students who have signed up to fight for our freedom.
“It is what we do for the community, and it has become a nice event for the Wayland Legion Family,” Mark said.
The ceremony was held by the tank and payed tribute to the flags that have flown by soldiers grave sites, and offered comfort to those who have fought for its right to fly proud in our country.
The Seniors to Soldiers include; Timothy Fleming, of Mount Morris Central, Dyland Hooker, of Genesee Valley Central, Paige Hughes, of Hornell High School, Sierra Stoll, of Wellsville High School, all of whom are shipping out in September to basic training; Hadassah Adams, of Dansville Central, Hillary Peterson, of Wellsville High School, CheyAnn Shipman, of Genesee Valley Central, and Corinne Smith, of Campbell- Savona Central, all whom are shipping out August for basic training. They were all recruited by US Air Force Recruiter Richard Dzamefe out of Hornell.
NYS Sen. Thomas O’Mara and Rep. Tom Reed had certificates for the students, and a special honor was placed on Post Commander Kevin Mark for everything he does to honor the military community.
Wayland Women’s Auxiliary President Rochelle Sulli said she was very impressed by the amount of students who were ready to fight for our freedom.
“We love to have the students come and be recognized for what they will do for our country,” she said. “I am presenting each of you with a star cut from the retired flags by veterans. Keep them for somewhere safe for good luck, and they will keep you safe.”
Sulli gave a Blue Star Flag to each of the parents to put up in their homes in honor of what their children are doing. These flags tell everyone in the community that their child is making the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.
“Each of my kids have entered the service,” she said. “It doesn’t matter where you stand now in your graduation class. You have 73 percent who go into the military and can’t make the grade. You are of the top 27 percent of your military class who is going in. You need to remember that.”
“My children all entered the US Air Force, and I have some insight I can share with all of you,” Sulli continued. “I will help get you through the process.”