The Rocky Point community ushered in history Thursday, Dec. 7, welcoming hundreds to the hamlet to launch the Suffolk County World War II and Military History Museum at the former Rocky Point train station.
In a grand opening ceremony featuring speeches from Rocky Point VFW Post 6249 members, musical performances by local students and even a military flyover, the event formally opened the highly anticipated regional veterans museum to the public.
Attending the event included various public officials, such as Town of Brookhaven Councilwoman Jane Bonner (R-Rocky Point), Suffolk County Legislator Nick Caracappa (C-Selden) and a representative of Congressman Nick LaLota (R-NY1).
The museum showcases various exhibits spotlighting the stories of local veterans. Uniforms, combat gear and memorabilia are out on display. The centerpiece, situated just outside the complex, is a military wall of honor with hundreds of names of local vets.
Joe Cognitore, commander of VFW Post 6249, declared that Thursday’s event was the realization of years of planning. “This is a vision we had many, many years ago, and this vision finally came true today,” he said.
Cognitore thanked the museum’s curator, post member and history teacher Rich Acritelli, for his considerable effort in preparing the museum for launch. “This museum is unbelievable,” the post commander explained. “It’s amazing what he did inside with such little time and little space.”
In his remarks, Acritelli outlined the objectives of the museum. “This story represents the countless Long Island people that have had numerous family members that have served within the Armed Forces and supported America within every military conflict,” he said.
Chronicling the vast contributions that went into the museum’s rollout, the curator added how the facility represents a moment of community building for Greater Rocky Point and beyond. “While there is a small percentage of the population who actually enter the military, the Armed Forces are embedded within every American family,” he noted. “Working on this veterans project, you watch how almost every person said they had a cousin, brother, father, aunt, close friend, mom, who was in uniform and wanted to recognize them for their patriotic efforts and sacrifices.”
Now, their stories are on display for the public. The museum is located at 7 Prince Road, Rocky Point.