Students at H. Frank Carey High School in Franklin Square honored hometown World War II veteran Eleanor Rizutto on Oct. 1 by making her hundreds of cards and presenting her with red, white and blue flowers marking her 100th birthday, which she celebrated on Sept. 28.
“I loved every single one. Each one was better than the next,” Rizutto said of the birthday cards. “One had a soldier with a patch on his eye, another had a nurse with a hat. They did a beautiful job.”
“At H. Frank Carey, we take a lot of pride in honoring our veterans,” Michael Farina, the chair of the social studies department, said in a statement. “It was an absolute pleasure meeting and speaking to her on Friday. I could not stop smiling the entire evening.”
Before meeting Rizutto, students were shown a video on World War II and learned about Rizutto’s service in the Army. She was stationed in Florida, and served in both North Africa and Italy during the war. A member of the 37th General Unit, a hospital unit, she was in North Africa at the height of German General Erwin Rommel’s deadly attacks across the continent.
Rizutto also worked at a hospital on the outskirts of Naples, Italy, treating wounded soldiers in tents and buildings near the hospital.
She was almost sent to Japan, in the war’s Pacific theater, but instead was sent back to the U.S. and returned to her job as a nurse.
Students between grades seven and 12 met Rizutto, who often advocates for teaching students about the War. “Many of them thanked her for her service and discussed the ways that she had personally inspired them,” the statement from the school said.
Rizutto, who lives in the Franklin Square retirement home Plattduetsche Home Society, was recently flown with eight other area veterans to Washington, D.C., by Honor Flight Long Island, a nonprofit that has hosted over 240,000 veterans on flights to the nation’s capital since 2005. There they toured the World War II and Iwo Jima memorials, and attended a changing of the guard and a special wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery.
Before Rizutto departed for the trip to the capital, Honor Flight Long Island President Bill Jones emphasized that veterans appreciate being honored for their service. “To be thanked at this time in their lives for what they did, preserving freedom for America, liberty throughout the world,” Jones said, is what veterans like Rizutto treasure.
Rizutto said the trip to Washington, D.C, was “fabulous,” and that she particularly enjoyed visiting a pavilion that honored female veterans.
After weeks of being recognized for her service, Rizutto thanked the community for giving her a 100th birthday experience she thoroughly enjoyed. “The whole week was wonderful,” she said.
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