Sayville schools carried on its long-standing tradition this month of honoring graduating seniors who have committed to serve in the U.S. military.
Four student-athletes were recognized during the school district’s Challenge Coin ceremony. Football and baseball player Nicholas Buffardi and girls lacrosse star Meghan McLaughlin are headed to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point; Nicholas Gibbons, who ran for the boys track team, is going to the U.S. Naval Academy Annapolis; and Aiden White, who wrestled for Sayville High School, enlisted in the U.S. Marines.
The students are now “part of a new generation of young citizens who are willing to go into harm’s way to protect us and our free society,” said Bryan Coon (U.S. Navy, retired), chairperson of the high school’s Technology/Business Department, who presided over the ceremony. “Our Nation is indebted to them and others like them, and we thank them for their commitment to service to this great nation.”
The annual ceremony was established by the late U.S. Army National Guard Major General Dennis Fagan, a faculty member.
“This was something (Fagan) was very passionate about,” Coon said. “He thought it was very important to recognize students who have dedicated themselves to military service. He really put his life into this event; even after being retired for 14 years, he came every year to be part of it.”
Coon noted during the tribute that Freedom is not guaranteed, but “provided to us … by young citizens who are willing to give up many of our civilian liberties and the good life to put on a uniform, take an oath, and defend this nation.”
Photo above: Chief Bryan Coon, U.S. Navy retired, with (from left) Meghan McLaughlin (U.S. Military Academy at West Point), Nicholas Gibbons (U.S. Naval Academy Annapolis), and Nicholas Buffardi (U.S. Military Academy at West Point). Aiden White (U.S. Marines) was not present. (Courtesy, Sayville schools)