By Tim Harfmann
The kickoff to this year’s Fleet Week in New York City had a Catholic school twist.
That’s because when U.S. Navy ships entered New York Harbor through the Narrows on the morning of May 22 to start the annual weeklong Fleet Week, students from Fontbonne Hall Academy, Bay Ridge, lined the Brooklyn shore at the Fort Hamilton Army base to show their appreciation.
“They shouldn’t have to wait for the holidays to be shown that we appreciate them,” said Tommasina Cardone, a junior at Fontbonne who said she is inspired by our nation’s troops year-round.
Students for Soldiers
To honor them, Tommasina started “Students for Soldiers.” The new club at Fontbonne raises money and sends care packages to the military.
Her two older brothers are in the Army and stationed in Fort Hood, Texas. Tommasina understands what it’s like for service members who live far from home.
“I really feel for them, and I feel that it’s hard to be away from your family, especially being deployed or anywhere overseas,” she said.
The help from the new Fontbonne club is a gesture that U.S. Army veteran Christopher Lewis appreciates.
“In the military, we have a code. One of them is selfless service,” he said as he watched the Fleet Week festivities along with the students. “That’s what these students are actually doing. They are selfless serving, they’re not thinking about themselves.”
Isabella Chirico, who’s also a member of Students For Soldiers, lives near the Fort Hamilton Army base in Bay Ridge, which has a great vantage point for the parade of ships.
“I was speechless, it gave me goosebumps. I was very inspired by the amount of patriotism,” Chirico said.
The Catholic high school students welcomed the chance to spend time with the sailors from the Navy.
“If my time in the service means that I can pass on my knowledge, and that the future gets to learn academically and learn to support our maritime services; it’s truly a blessing,” said Navy officer Alfredo Rosario, who was also at the Fort Hamilton Army base.
The Bronx native, who enlisted two years ago, serves on the U.S.S. Virginia submarine.
“For a lot of people, they don’t really know what happens when we’re out to sea,” he said. “And for them to see the technology, it allows them to want to be interested.”
Chirico dreams of attending a military academy and joining the ROTC, while Tommasina wants to be a military doctor.
“Because I feel like if I need to help anyone, it would be our military members,” Tommasina said.