LACKAWANNA, N.Y. (WIVB) – Nancy Hajduk is a wife and mother, and even though she has never served in the armed forces, she has stood behind her husband and son who have fought for this country.
Mrs. Hajduk helps organize the annual salute to veterans at Global Concepts Charter School in Lackawanna, where she is a kindergarten teacher, but Friday, some of Hajduk’s fellow staffers turned the tables on her.
For nearly 700 students at Global Concepts, it would be a powerful lesson about honor and duty to family and country.
While the students were dazzled by the skill and precision of a drill team, they also learned the final tally of their own collection for the Wounded Warriors Project amounted to more than $1,200.
But there was also the mom, Ann Davis, whose son left home to serve, but never returned, and now Davis dedicates much of her time to supporting those who did come back–and need her help—by volunteering at the VA Hospital.
Students also gave a standing ovation to Carmen Turchiarelli, a decorated World War II combat veteran, who survived the horrors of D-Day, received two Silver Stars, a Bronze Star, and the Combat Infantryman’s Badge.
Nancy Hajduk arranged a surprise tribute to her husband, retired M/Sgt. Mark Hajduk a decorated 40 year veteran, and for 40 years, she has been there for him, but her fellow staffers, led by Dean of Students Fred Hahn decided mom should get some recognition, too.
Hahn called Mrs. Hajduk out in front of the assembly, as the Hajduk’s daughter sprang a pleasant surprise. Marissa lives thousands of miles away in Texas, and sneaked into town for the school celebration to honor both parents.
Nancy called it a sweet surprise, “I’m just so totally shocked. I never expected this. I was trying to surprise my husband with his 40 years of service, and it is just turned around. It’s a wonderful surprise.”
How did Marissa keep the secret from both parents? “I had to try and hide the fact that I was so close to home–20 minutes away–and I wanted to call up all my family members, and say hey I am in town, let’s go to dinner. I just had to hide it and it was really tough.”
A stunned Mark Hajduk quipped, “Military Intelligence failed. I had no clue whatsoever. She pulled it off, Mr. Hahn, Mr. Ehrle (David Ehrle principal), kept it under wraps.”
Mr. Hahn was pleased with pulling off Nancy Hajduk’s surprise, “We tried to pull off something pretty special for her and evoke some emotion, and make it a day to remember for her entire family.”
The Hajduks’ son, wounded in action, was just released from a military hospital. Ironically, Mark, Nancy, and Marissa will be attending a family wedding this weekend, which Marissa told everyone she would not have been able to attend.
As a veteran’s wife and mother, Nancy Hajduk said she would not have it any other way, “It is a lot of worrying, but it is in defense of country and home, and I am so proud of my family.”