DARIEN, Conn. — As Royle Elementary School saluted local veterans during a Wednesday morning ceremony, they included a special honor for one of their own — a teacher who served in Vietnam.
As the chorus sang “When Johnny Comes Marching Home,” veterans walked past the students, teachers and parents gathered in a packed gymnasium to stand at the front of the room.
“These are extraordinary people doing extraordinary things for our country,” Principal John Grasso told the students. “They serve to keep our country safe.”
Among the veterans walking to the applause of students, teachers and parents was Joseph Squeo, one of Royle’s own.
Squeo, a fifth grade teacher, was among the many veterans who found out many years later they had been awarded medals that they never received.
Squeo had sent letters to the military asking for the medals. In one letter, he was told one of the medals was “out of stock.”
So he reached out to U.S. Rep. Jim Himes (D-4th District) for help.
Himes was able to get Squeo the medals, which he shared with the Royle community Wednesday.
“I was thrilled and deeply touched that the medals due me from so long ago could be shared with my family and the extended family at Royle School,” Squeo said.
Himes told those gathered that he was “absolutely delighted to attend” and to have helped Squeo get his medals.
“Every one of these medals has a story,” Himes said.
The ceremony also included other student performances. Members of the band played “Taps” and the chorus sang three songs, including “The Star Spangled Banner.”
A large flag draped over the front of the school welcomed the veterans who visited Wednesday morning. That was supposed to be the backdrop for the ceremony, but it was moved inside because of the rain.
Still, there was a flag to be seen. Five chorus students held a large flag as Himes, Squeo and Grasso addressed the patient audience.
“On Veterans Day it is terribly important that we go out of our way to honor our veterans,” Himes told the Daily Voice shortly before the ceremony as students marched by the front office.
“I think it is particularly special when we do it in schools,” he said, adding that the experience allows students to see how their elders have served their country.
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