To the Editor:

On Monday, Nov. 25, the Boys & Girls Club of Lower Naugatuck Valley Keystone Club held its annual Thanksgiving dinner at the Shelton Senior Center. It was a fabulous success and an event I always enjoy attending. Great fun, food by David Grant Catering, music, dancing and home early. What more could you want?

The evening began with the Pledge of Allegiance; the person at the podium took a long pause before beginning, she knew her audience. The room of more than 350 elderly attendees slowly stood. It was a roomful of persons with knee and hip replacements, arthritis in most of their joints, aches and pains from 60 to 90 years of living, toiling and raising families but it did not deter any one of them from rising. At my table a 98-year-old USMC veteran who had some very serious bruises from a recent fall at home strained to get on his feet; he refused assistance, he stood as straight as he could and did not miss a word. What a wonderful display and example for all of us of the patriotism and respect for our country, its military and our protected way of life.

I also have had the privilege of subbing at some of the local high schools, middle schools and elementary schools and am very disappointed, disheartened, and disgusted each day when students do not stand and repeat the Pledge of Allegiance to the USA before class begins. Very few stand, place their hand over their heart and participate. For those who are already standing, some will stand quietly but most won’t, they continue their conversations, play video games, e-mail, eat, snap chat, etc., showing no respect for the country where they live freely and are protected by or are hiding behind the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights. This disrespectful practice, unfortunately, started many years before NFL players started kneeling on the field.

Our values, education and ideas should evolve as we grow and progress but forgetting about the past and not honoring it as a nation is the wrong path to be on. We should celebrate, respect and remember the past to continue to grow as a society and avoid making the mistakes of the past that divided us.

The USA is the most unique and wonderful place to live in the world today. We, as a society, set the standard for the world in so many ways that we attract millions who want to come to live here. As an example, one of the regular, young, inspiring and brilliant math teachers I know is from China, where as a child she did not have shoes to wear until she moved to the U.S., when she was nine.

As adults we are responsible for setting examples and educating our children at home, on the streets as well as in the classroom. Our children may attend school but the best foundation for learning comes from family and home when they are young. Those first few years set the tone for the next 18 to 20 of formal education. We, as a society, fall short in preparing most of our children for school and the future. There is no time like the present to start this education.

Thank you to all the Boys and Girls Club of LNV Key Club members who did a superb job of serving and assisting the attendees. And to the Senior Center staff for always providing everyone who visits a wonderful, warm and great place to meet and greet each other.

Anthony Simonetti