Honoring Our Veterans

Lighthouse Christian Students to thank veterans

Date Published: 
Nov. 10, 2017

For years, Lighthouse Christian School has felt the importance of educating youth on the meaning of Veterans Day.

“Our school is very, very concerned about giving time to the veterans, and recognizing our veterans for the sacrifices that both them and their families have made,” said Pat Viguie, a teacher at the school.

“... And expose the children to the cause of the veterans so they get an education, and they understand what it’s about. The kids they do it every year,” added Rudy Viguie, Pat’s husband and a Korean War veteran.

Viguie said the day of thanks was because Lighthouse Director Terri Menoche felt it was important to recognize our veterans on Veterans Day.

Rudy Viguie said it is important to education young people about veterans and what it means to serve one’s country.

“There’s no draft now; it’s strictly volunteer. The more knowledge they have about why we’re doing what we’re doing, they will of course make a better decision in terms of what they do in the military and what they do in the voting box.”

Rudy said it is a sight to see — the small child walking down the line of veterans at the end of the program, shake their hands and thank them for their service to the country.

“You have to capture the picture of a small child going up to a World War II veteran… The eye-contact is incredible… That’s the emotion it conjures up. There’s so much going on — that connection.”

“They can’t wait to go up to the veterans. They’re very excited they’re there,” said Pat.

The program will be held on Friday, Nov. 17, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., in the school’s sanctuary.

American flags decorate the outside of the school, provided by Flags For Heroes. That afternoon the Dagsboro Fire Company will be on-site with a truck, flying a large American flag as well.

This year Vietnam veterans will be the focus of the program — a decision Pat said came to her through prayer.

“As a Christian, you want to do God’s will. So, you prayerfully consider what he would have for you. Each year I try to lift that up in prayer, ‘What Lord would you like me to do this year with our students?’ He has been so faithful in giving me the theme each year.”

Given the “poor reception” Vietnam veterans received upon their return home from war, the Viguies said it’s extra important to show those veterans the citizens care about them, and are thankful for their service.

“The Vietnam veterans are very near and dear to me personally because I graduated high school in 1975 and that was during war time years Vietnam. Many of the boys coming home took the opportunity of the educational benefits from the government and were going to college. I studied with them, I laughed with them, and cried with them…” said Pat. “I was waiting for the time to do that, and this year I clearly heard from the Lord saying, ‘Let’s pay honor to our Vietnam veterans and let our school give them the welcome home they never had.”

“It wasn’t their fault,” added Rudy. “Their country called them, they got drafted, and they went off to war. You can argue about the war but it’s not their fault… They were blamed for the atrocities… We really want to give them that welcome home that they never received.”

During the program, there will be Vietnam veterans speaking to those in attendance. Retired Marine Bob Valentine, who served two tours in Vietnam, as well as tours in Afghanistan and Iraq, spoke to fourth- through eighth-grade students prior to the event about his time in Vietnam — what they ate, carried and what it was like living in a jungle.

Phil Diluzio, retired Army E5, who served in an assault helicopter company from 1969 to 1970, will speak along with Frank Bolen, a retired Marine sergeant who served in the infantry from 1968 to1969.

Marine Robert Corsa, who served in the infantry in 1966 to `967 during Vietnam, will be joined by his wife Laurie Corsa, who served as an Army helicopter mechanic from 1981 to 1986.

American Legion Post 24 Commander Ed Carmine, a Vietnam veteran who served in the Navy from 1970 to 1986, and worked on the flight deck of the USS Enterprise, will be sharing about the sacrifices families make.

While veterans will speak during the program, the children of Lighthouse Christian will perform songs, read letters or poems to the veterans in attendance. New this year, said Pat, will be video presentations dispersed throughout the afternoon, of kids giving thanks to the veterans.

Pat said while there is a focus on Vietnam veterans, veterans of all wars are encouraged to attend with their families, and will be recognized.

Also during the program, the Table of Remembrance ceremony for POWs and MIAs will be conducted, and the Veterans Affairs’ Mobile Outreach Unit will also be on-site to show area veterans the clinic.

“After they have their lunch they’re perfectly welcome to go in, speak with John and see the facility and see what’s available to them in that mobile unit,” said Pat.

Following the event there will be a luncheon held for those who attended, with food provided by 23 area restaurants.

“They really, really support the veterans — it’s great!” said Pat.

Rudy Viguie said the event is something special to experience, and noted it’s a unique opportunity to both educate children and thank the country’s veterans.

“We want them to feel comfortable there. We want them going away knowing they have an extended family at our school. That we recognize them and what they did. That we’re empathetic… We love and care about them,” said Pat. “Mistakes are made in the past. We need to learn from those mistakes. We made mistakes when these Vietnam veterans came home but we’re teaching the children that there is a history, we’re not going to dismiss it, but we’re going to make it better. This will never, ever happen again because our children are being educated.”

Lighthouse Christian School is located on Route 113 and Route 26, at the Dagsboro Church of God. Those who wish to attend the event are asked to RSVP to Pat Viguie by Monday, Nov. 13, at (302) 537-5017, to ensure there will be enough lunch available to all.