Honoring by Remembering

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The Hampton Bays School District continued its tradition of honoring veterans for the third school year in a row by conducting a monthly flag ceremony at the elementary school. Held on Sept. 11, the event recognized the service of Francis "Smitty" Smith. In addition to honoring Mr. Smith, the ceremony served as a reminder and tribute to the fallen heroes of 9/11.

Mr. Smith, a Hampton Bays graduate (Class of 1941) and U.S. Marine Corps veteran, earned a Purple Heart for his service at Guadalcanal, where he was wounded five times. The corporal also fought at Bougainville, Guam and Okinawa, and was a member of the Tokyo Bay Occupation Force.

Mr. Smith was honorably discharged from the Marine Corps on Aug. 14, 1946 after three years of service. He and his wife Sylvia, also a Hampton Bays graduate, live in the hamlet and have three children – David, Sharon and Sylvia.

"On tough days like this, it's nice to see our friends and neighbors here with us," said Hampton Bays District Superintendent Lars Clemensen, referring to the anniversary of 9/11. "Thank you to these local heroes. Smitty, a 1941 Hampton Bays graduate, is truly the best that Hampton Bays can hope for."

During the ceremony, members of all seven fourth-grade classes read excerpts from Mr. Smith's biography, as well as student essays and poems about 9/11, and performed the song "Americans We." In addition, eighth-grade students Melissa Carranza and Grayson Cherubino read their Patriot Pen essays, and members of the Hampton Bays Fire Department conducted a memorial wreath presentation.

Also present at the flag ceremony were past veteran honorees, members of the American Legion Hand-Aldrich Post 924, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5350, members of the Hampton Bays Fire Department and Volunteer Ambulance, and the Southampton Town Police. Other public figures in attendance included: New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr., Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman, Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst, Southampton Town Deputy Supervisor Frank Zappone, Southampton Town Board members Chris Nuzzi and Bridget Fleming, and Hampton Bays Board of Education President Chris Garvey.