By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Lyle Wilkie
A Sailor aboard the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship USS New York (LPD 21) celebrated Flag Day in a special way.
Every year on Flag Day, Riley Avenue Elementary School in Calverton, New York, takes time to celebrate the holiday by teaching their students about what the flag represents, said Lt. j.g. Tracy Martinez, administrative officer aboard New York.
“I was glad that I was able to participate in their celebration even when I am all the way on the other side of the world,” said Martinez, who is serving in the Mediterranean Sea as part of New York’s deployment to U.S. 6th Fleet.
Flag Day began in 1885 when students in Fredonia, Wisconsin, observed a “flag birthday” on June 14, marking the official adoption of the Stars and Stripes. The idea grew as other cities and towns started to observe and display the flag on the same day. In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson officially established Flag Day, but it was not until 1949 that President Harry Truman signed an act of Congress designating the date National Flag Day.
“The second grade students study the history of the flag, the art teacher hangs their patriotic art work around the gym, and the students wrote essays about what the flag meant to them,” said Martinez. “On Flag Day, some of the students read their essays and the students perform a concert of patriotic songs for their parents. One of the songs is dedicated to all veterans and active duty members of the armed forces to thank them for their service.”
At sunset, Martinez ceremoniously lowered and folded a flag with Quartermaster 2nd Class Mary Hinojosa in the school’s honor.
“Out of all the days on deployment, I felt it would be most meaningful to return this flag to the school after it had been flown aboard the New York on the day that we celebrate the flag and everything that it represents,” said Martinez.
What made this even more special to Martinez was that her mother teaches at Riley Avenue.
“My mom has supported me through each and every day of this deployment and through all of my naval service,” said Martinez. “I was delighted to be able to support her career as an educator and her students in return.”
Martinez will present the flag to the school in person upon her return from deployment.
New York, homeported in Mayport, Florida, is conducting naval operations in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations in support of U.S. national security interests in Europe and Africa.
New York is part of the Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group which embarks the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit and is comprised of the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7), the Harpers Ferry-class dock landing ship USS Oak Hill (LSD 51), Fleet Surgical Team (FST) 8, Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 28, Tactical Air Control Squadron (TACRON) 22, components of Naval Beach Group 2 and the embarked staff of commander, Amphibious Squadron 4.