Cicilline delivers over 4,000 valentines to Newport County veterans
U.S. Rep. David Cicilline visited the Rhode Island Veterans Home in Bristol on Tuesday as a part of his Valentines For Vets program. The congressman had put out a call for Ocean State schoolchildren to create valentines that he could personally deliver to the vets on the holiday. The students responded with over 4,600 valentines, and 103 of them came from the Melrose Avenue School in Jamestown.
There was no discussion of politics during Cicilline’s visit. A grateful group of veterans greeted the democrat who represents Rhode Island’s 1st District, which includes Jamestown. The vets were happy that a representative of the nation that they had served so well had remembered them on the special day. It was a moving day, especially when one veteran pressed the valentine up to his face and began to weep.
“This is a really wonderful opportunity to thank our veterans and to acknowledge the sacrifices they’ve made by delivering cards to them on Valentine’s Day, which is obviously a holiday where we celebrate love,” Cicilline said.
As Cicilline moved from ward to ward he addressed many of the vets individually and thanked them for their service. The veterans and staff seemed equally happy to see the first-term congressman, who, if victorious in the Democratic primary, will run against republican candidate Brendan Dougherty in November. When it was time to move on, the vets could be seen scrutinizing their valentines, with smiles often beginning to brighten up their faces.
According to Melrose School Principal Carole Melucci, Superintendent Marcia Lukon forwarded her the invitation from Cicilline to see if Jamestown wanted to participate in the project.
“I thought it was a fabulous idea,” said Melucci, “so I asked the kindergarten and first grade if they wanted to participate and everyone said ‘yes.’”
Melucci said that the students were excited to make cards for the veterans who supported their country. “They felt very proud and they put a lot of hard work and effort in and they felt really good that they were able to give to people who were giving to our country,” she said.
Cicilline said that he was grateful for the generosity shown by the students at Melrose Avenue School, as well all the young people from all over the district who contributed to this effort. “Thank you to [Melucci] of the Melrose Elementary School for coordinating this project in Jamestown,” he said.
He continued: “I know that our veterans will appreciate knowing that their incredible sacrifice and service is honored by young people across our state. I appreciate the hard work of the students and teachers on these cards – you can see that a lot of thought and care went into each card.”
According to the congressman, 26 schools participated. He said not only were the children putting smiles on the faces of the veterans, but they were learning about what veterans have done and the sacrifices they have made for the country.
“If you read some of the cards they reveal real understanding of how much we owe our veterans,” Cicilline said. “There are expressions of love, and thank you for your bravery, and thank you for making America free.”
The Rhode Island Veterans Home is a long-term facility that is available to any veteran who served on active duty during wartime for a period of at least 90 days.
“They can come here for a short stay or long stay, whatever suits their needs,” said the home’s administrator, Rick Baccus. “We’re here to take care of whatever their needs are should they choose to become a resident with us.”
Baccus said it meant a lot for the residents of the home, and let them know they weren’t forgotten. He said everybody appreciates the service they’ve done for the country and Valentine’s Day is a great time to recognize them.
Since it was first established in 1996, the Valentines for Veterans program has brought millions of cards to American service members and veterans. This effort coincides with the National Salute to Hospitalized Veterans Week, which is celebrated each year during the week of Feb. 14.