By Rich Acritelli
The Joseph P. Dwyer Memorial Statue was installed this month by Fricke Memorials at the Rocky Point Veterans Memorial Square, standing at the crossroads of Broadway and Route 25A.
This bronze statue identifies the psychological and physical reminders that many armed forces members must endure long after they return home from the fighting.
At one point this town park was an eyesore to the community. For many years, there was trouble at this location, and in 2011 the Town of Brookhaven permanently closed the Oxygen Bar on the property. Led by Councilwoman Jane Bonner (R-Rocky Point), the town purchased the land for $525,000 in 2015.
On Oct. 17, 2016, the town installed large poles that flew the American and military branch flags.
As a longtime resident of the area, Bonner said, “It was an absolute pleasure to be a part of this worthy endeavor to honor the military efforts of Dwyer and to understand the true significance of the struggles of PTSD. This is an extremely special location to also thank our armed forces members.”
While Bonner has been involved with many key projects, she was also instrumental in helping create the Diamond in the Pines 9/11 Memorial that was built in 2011 by VFW Post 6249 Rocky Point.
Former state Sen. Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) also played a big role in securing the necessary funds for the Dwyer statue. VFW Post 6249 Comdr. Joe Cognitore said LaValle “always positively worked with veterans groups and to help our diverse needs. This statue signifies the amazing drive of LaValle to always be a true champion of support towards the past, present and future members of the military.”
The structure that remembers Dwyer, who was a graduate of Mount Sinai High School, illustrates the vital need to help those service members who are suffering from PTSD.
Positive sentiments were expressed by members of the Rocky Point High School History Honor Society. Senior Tristan Duenas said, “The town did a wonderful job in replacing a poor piece of land and making it into a vital memorial to pay tribute to our veterans, especially those that have been inflicted by PTSD.”
Junior Caroline Settepani added, “This statue demonstrates the major achievements of veterans like Dwyer that risked their lives to help people from different parts of the world.”
Following her research, junior Madelynn Zarzycki believed “the project is also connected to the past negative treatment of the Vietnam veterans who received little support when they came home.”
According to Zarzycki, “These veterans who fought in Southeast Asia faced a severe amount of PTSD challenges that impacted the rest of their lives. It does not matter when a soldier served in battle, these harsh experiences do not discriminate from one generation to the next.”
Senior Chloe Fish recalled the former Oxygen Bar as a “detriment toward the beauty of this community. Now the Dwyer statue adds a new prospective of service to the downtown area of Rocky Point.”