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Patriotic Bethpage homecoming brings Marine's dad to tears

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A "Field of Honor" was set up at near the football field at Bethpage High School for the homecoming game against Hewlett on Oct. 18, 2014. Photo Credit: Joseph Kellard

While at Bethpage High School’s homecoming Saturday, Dennis Diesel Sr. expressed a longing for his son to come home.

Dennis Jr. joined the U.S. Marines after he graduated from the school in 2011, and was deployed to the Middle East in March. The lance corporal is expected to return to America in November.

Diesel was among those who purchased American flags that were planted on school grounds to honor Bethpage’s alumni past and present who have served in the military. The walkway to the football field was lined with about 150 flags designated the “Field of Honor” for the Golden Eagles’ homecoming game against Hewlett.

“This is incredible,” Diesel said of the Field of Honor, his eyes edged with tears. “And you get emotional over it because he’s not here. We’re looking forward to him coming home.”

The Field of Honor tied into Bethpage’s homecoming theme: America.

Floats and the students who rode them were done up in red, white, and blue. The varsity kickline team dressed as Miss America pageant contestants, complete with gowns and sashes. After the floats had pulled up to the front of the school, students performed brief theatrical skits. Among them were the “Sophomore Soldiers,” who reenacted emotional family scenes as men went off to war.

Bethpage athletic director John Franchi and Kevin Healy, an assistant principal at the high school, came up with the idea to have people from the community, including faculty and students, buy flags for $20 to honor their military relatives. The proceeds will be donated to the Wounded Warrior Project.

“It adds a nice visual,” principal Michael Spence said of the Field of Honor. “And it acknowledges all the people who have given service to our great country.”

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