Armando Chick Galella felt that the World War II memorial wall at the Sleepy Hollow Fire Department needed to be refurbished. The painted names of those who served had faded and were hard to read.
The veteran and Sleepy Hollow native sought help from the Tarrytowns Unified Free School District. On Thursday morning, his request was rewarded as eighth grade art students from Sleepy Hollow Middle School unveiled a new mural for their school to honor veterans and those currently serving in the military.
The mural, featuring the words Piece by piece, a smile is the beginning of peace and illustrations of the earth, doves and people, is intended to promote peace. The students also hope it will remind students that bullying is not ok.
How sweet it is to see the veterans here today and all you young students, Galella said. I appreciate it very much.
Students premiered the mural to an audience of fellow students, veterans and government officials. Sleepy Hollow Mayor Ken Wray officially proclaimed the day as Sleepy Hollow Middle School Art Students Day. Tarrytown Mayor Drew Fixell presented a certificate of merit from the village.
Teacher Andrea Harrison took on the project after Galellas initial request. She invited Galella to speak to her art classes last fall about his experiences in World War II. Galella served in the Pacific and was at Pearl Harbor on the day it was attacked.
I wanted [the students] to be a part of this entire project, Harrison said. I saw the possibility of Mr. Galella coming into the classes to make history come alive. Not only did he make history come alive, he moved all of us.
Student Doanny Gonzalez said the students were so inspired that they wanted to give Galella and all veterans something in return.
The students spent eight months hand-painting the pieces of the mural, which will be hung in the school. Gonzalez said working on the mural was sometimes frustrating and stressful, but eventually the students realized the project was really about honoring those who serve their country.
It took a long, long time but we learned so much along the way, she said.
Joseph Tanzi, commander of the Disabled American Veterans of Mt. Pleasant and Greeburgh, expressed his appreciation for the project.
Thank you for thinking of us, honoring us and for carrying the torch for the next generation, he said.
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