Long Island’s veterans will soon take center stage as organizers of a regional veterans museum put the finishing touches on the new complex.
Located at the former Rocky Point train station and across the street from the Rocky Point VFW Post 6249 on King Road, the Suffolk County World War II and Military History Museum will open its doors to the public on Dec. 7. Museum organizers seek to tell the stories of local veterans across Long Island, putting their uniforms, combat equipment and records on public display.
Buildout of this museum commenced earlier this year and is now entering its final stretch. Nearing the finish line, organizers are calling upon the community for support. In readying the complex for its public launch, museum curator and post member Rich Acritelli said the post is still seeking donations of military memorabilia and equipment.
“If anybody has any equipment, web gear, old shovels, knives, canteens, helmets, binoculars, bayonets, rifles, any cold weather stuff or any older hats,” the museum will accept and display that memorabilia, he said.
Along with artifacts, the museum is also accepting display cases, shelves and mannequins to enhance its displays.
A centerpiece for the museum will be its military wall of honor, located along the exterior of the premises. Acritelli said that he hopes to display 250 names of local veterans by the museum’s grand opening ceremonies in December.
“We want people to scratch their heads, and that’s what they’re doing,” he said. “They’re scratching their heads and saying, ‘I have a cousin, an uncle, grandparents’” who served in the U.S. armed forces, “and we’re getting a multitude of families” submitting names.
Joe Cognitore, commander of Post 6249, emphasized the museum as an extension of the VFW’s operations, designed as an education and outreach center to bring the region’s vets together.
“Learning is a never-ending process,” he said, adding that the envisioned complex prevents veteran combat experiences from “falling by the wayside.”
For local Scouts and students seeking community service hours, Cognitore added that the museum is welcoming assistance in its buildout, adding that this form of community service also fulfills the post’s mission of educating Long Island’s youth on the wartime experiences of local veterans. “We want them to dig in, look at the history and know some of the battles,” he added.
Throughout the process of creating the museum, both Cognitore and Acritelli agreed that the project has given rise to a burgeoning homegrown veterans network, connecting former service members around a new common cause. “We’re very busy, but it’s a good thing,” Acritelli noted.
To leverage this newfound connection, Cognitore said the post aims to become “a one-stop shopping VFW.”
“We’re going to get all walks of life through here,” the post commander added.
To donate to the museum or submit a name for the military wall of honor, email Acritelli at [email protected].