Jake Giammatteo salutes our veterans

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Beaufort County School District now recognizes Veterans Day as an observed holiday thanks to local student

By Wendy Nilsen Pollitzer

On November 11 of last year, 9-year-old Jake Giammatteo sat in his Coosa Elementary School classroom puzzled and disappointed. On a day that our country proudly recognizes as a national holiday, Beaufort County School District did not observe Veterans Day. Giammatteo thought this was unacceptable, especially in a town that is home to three military installations.

Jake Giammatteo will lead the Veterans Day Assembly on Friday, November 8 at  1 p.m. at Lady’s Island Middle School. The public is invited to attend.
Jake Giammatteo will lead the Veterans Day Assembly on Friday, November 8 at
1 p.m. at Lady’s Island Middle School. The public is invited to attend.

“Beaufort, SC, is a military town. I didn’t understand why we didn’t recognize our veterans,” explained Giammatteo.

So, he decided to do something about it.

Jake wrote a letter to the Beaufort County School District and Board of Education requesting Veterans Day off to give thanks to all those who served honorably in the military, in wartime and peacetime, to acknowledge that their contributions to our national security are appreciated, and to underscore the fact that all those who served — not only those who died — have sacrificed and done their duty for our country.

Along with the letter, Giammatteo gathered signatures from students on a formal petition and sent it as an enclosed attachment.

And, as a gesture of respect to our veterans, Giammatteo pledged to wear a tie every day to school to honor our heroes. He earned the nickname, “The Tie Guy.”

“I wanted to dress nicely at school to honor those men and women who died for our country and those who still serve,” explained Giammatteo.

As leadership changed within the school district, the minds of its new leaders did too. This year, thanks to Jake Giammatteo, Beaufort County School District recognizes Veterans Day as an observed holiday.

Though the school district has not acknowledged Giammatteo as the catalyst behind the amended calendar, another celebrated community figure and many teachers and administrators have.

Marine Brig. General L.E. Reynolds sent Giammatteo an official letter thanking him for his patriotism and commending him on his professionalism, especially at such a young age.

Giammatteo’s former principal, Carmen Dillard, also saluted his efforts.

“He found a way to express his concerns in a very positive manner. He worked very hard to communicate this with students and faculty. I am very proud of him,” says Dillard.

Dillard recognized Giammatteo at Coosa Elementary School’s Leadership Day last May. At the event, Lt. Col. Michael Bowersox and the Chaplain of Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island personally expressed thanks to Giammatteo.

Another big fan of Jake Giammatteo’s perseverance was Coosa teacher Jim Olsen, a former Marine. To encourage Jake’s commitment to dressing reverently at school, Olsen contributed ties to his wardrobe.

The word spread quickly. Coosa’s PTO arranged a drive and also donated ties. Jody Henson, past commander of the local chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution, not only gave Giammatteo more ties, but also a scholarship in his name.

Now a fifth grader at Lady’s Island Middle School, Giammatteo continues his tradition of wearing ties, not only on Veterans Day, but every day. He was elected by his peers to serve as the Student Council Secretary. He’s also a member of the cup stacking team and a proud member of the Gentleman’s Club.

Perhaps the most spirited role Giammatteo plays at Lady’s Island Middle School is that of school mascot. Jake is the LIMS Cougar and rallies students during athletic games and ceremonies at the school.  And on Friday, Nov. 8 at 1 p.m., Jake will lead the opening ceremony for Lady’s Island Middle School’s Veterans Day assembly.

Principal Mona Lise Dickson and Assistant Principal Gregory Hall believe there is no one better suited for this prestigious duty. And, the public is invited to attend to, not only celebrate and show allegiance to our veterans, but also give thanks to Giammatteo.

“Jake stood up for what he believed in, and he did so positively and productively. He demonstrated persistence and communicated with clarity and precision. We are proud of Jake,” says Mona Lise Dickson.

Jake Giammatteo is a hero and a statesman, even at the age of 10. He followed protocol for change and got it. He deserves thanks from all those represented within the Beaufort County School District.

Jake is the proud grandson of USMC Korean War Veteran, Sgt. Robert F. Pelosi, and two of his cousins are active duty soldiers. USMC Sgt. Ryan Mason is stationed at MCAS Beaufort, and USMC Cpt. Scott Mason is stationed at Parris Island. Both cousins served in Afghanistan.

Jake is the second son of Joan and Guy Giammatteo. His siblings are Tyler, Gage and Emmajay. The family lives on Lady’s Island.

OTHER VETERANS DAY EVENTS:

• All Beaufort County offices will be closed Monday, November 11, in observance of Veterans Day. 

• The Veterans Day Parade begins at 9:30 a.m. on Monday, Nov. 11, through the streets of downtown Beaufort. The parade will end at the Beaufort National Cemetery where a ceremony will take place at 11 a.m. The keynote speaker will be Lt. Col. Patrick Fitzgerald, USMC, Executive Officer, Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort.

• Friday, Nov. 8: Veterans Day Program at Beaufort Academy. The program is open to the public, all veterans and their families welcome. Please contact 843-524-3393 for more information.

• On Tuesday, November 12, at 9 a.m., students and faculty of Coosa Elementary School will gather with local veterans and current military to celebrate the dedication of their new Memorial Reflection Garden. The Parris Island Marine Band will accompany students singing the national anthem. In honor of Veterans Day, the entire student body of Coosa Elementary School will gather around the flagpole to say the Pledge of Allegiance and sing “The Star-Spangled Banner.” This event is open to the general public. Those interested in attending should RSVP by email to donna.sams@beaufort.k12.sc.us.