Friday, November 8, 2013
By Wendy Nilsen Pollitzer
Special to the Moultrie News
Jake-Giammatteo-_The-Tie-Guy_On Veteran’s Day last year, nine 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 Veteran’s Day. Giammatteo thought this was unacceptable, especially in a town that is home to three military installations.
“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 requesting Veteran’s 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 Veteran’s, 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 district, the minds of its new leaders did too. This year, thanks to Jake Giammatteo, Beaufort County School District recognizes Veteran’s Day as an observed holiday.
Though Beaufort County 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. Gen. 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 MCRD 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 Giammateo 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 Veteran’s 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.
Jake Giammatteo as the LIMS CougarPerhaps 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, November 8th at 1pm, Jake Giammatteo will lead the Opening Ceremony for Lady’s Island Middle School’s Veteran’s 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 Giammetteo.
“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 ten. He followed protocol for change and got it. He deserves thanks from each and every one of us that are represented within Beaufort County School District. And I am happy to be one of the first to publicly give it to him. Jake Giammatteo, you are a valued asset to this community, and I sincerely appreciate your loyalty to our nation’s Veterans.
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 Giammatteo family lives on Lady’s Island.
(Pollitzer is a Mount Pleasant native and local author).