Mail delivery is always special when you’re in the service, said Jim Santangelo, commander of VFW Post 9617 in Stamford’s Springdale section. On Valentine’s Day, getting a letter or package is particularly meaningful.

“The most important time of the day for many of us was waiting for mail, and we looked forward to getting something from wives or sweethearts on Valentine’s Day,” Santangelo told a group of Springdale School fourth-graders Monday morning. Santangelo and three other veterans didn’t have to wait long to get valentines from the students. It was the kids' way of saying “thank you” to the veterans.

Teacher Jimmy Sapia's students made their valentines during art class with teacher Samantha Kanner. Santangelo and fellow veterans John Golino, Henry Warner and Fred Drenckhahn – a Springdale School alumnus — visited the class and chatted about their military experiences during the 1940s and 1950s.

The event was arranged by the office of U.S. Rep. Jim Himes, D-4th District, who accompanied the veterans to the classroom. “It’s a really wonderful opportunity to say thank you to them by creating some valentines,” Himes said. He told the youngsters that the veterans performed a great service to the country and that it can come at a cost.

Himes said some veterans are wounded on duty and experience difficulties after service. “We need to remind them that we’re thinking about them.” An overflow container of the students’ handmade valentines would be delivered to Homes for the Brave and West Haven’s VA medical center.

“It’s fun writing letters to the veterans that helped us,” said Tamia James, 9. She knew what she would write on her valentine: “Thank you for saving our country, and I hope they have a good time for the rest of their lives.”

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