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Steven J. Crowley Memorial Park

Members of American Legion Post 432’s color guard. Photo courtesy Bruce Miller
By Sofia Levorchick

Members from American Legion Post 432 in Port Jefferson Station gathered at Steven J. Crowley Memorial Park in Terryville on Memorial Day, May 29, honoring and remembering America’s veterans. 

Every year, the post spotlights Port Jefferson native Steven J. Crowley – the man for whom the park is dedicated. Crowley served as a security officer in the U.S. Marine Corps and died in the line of duty in 1979 when a student riot attacked the American embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan. He was just 20 years old. 

The ceremony began with the color guard as Post 432 members saluted in silence, provoking a solemn and patriotic spirit. Edward Haran, commander of Post 432, delivered  the dedication, honoring those who gave their lives in service to the nation. 

“May the ceremonies of today deepen our reverence for our old friends and comrades, especially Corporal Crowley,” the post commander said. “Let us renew our pledge of loyalty to our country and its flag. Let us resolve by word indeed to emphasize the privilege and duty of patriotism.” 

He then welcomed the Crowley family to place a wreath and flowers in honor of their fallen loved one.

Ladies Auxiliary members during Memorial Day services on Monday, May 29. Photo courtesy Bruce Miller

A legion member’s trumpet let out the somber tune of “Taps” as the American flag was lowered. Haran concluded with, “To all those who stand with us today, you will now consecrate yourselves with us to emulate the sacred service that those who rest in the heroes’ [graves] may not have died in vain,” he said.

After the ceremony, Mike Williams, chaplain of Post 432, discussed why this annual service is held in Crowley’s honor. “Crowley is prominent in our post, gave his life for our country, and we must remember and honor him,” Williams said, emphasizing that Crowley was a local man whose influence and legacy are still felt within the post and greater community.

Haran advised those in attendance to seek to learn from Crowley’s example of service. “I think what they can learn is the sacrifice that he, and others like him, made for our country and all the wars,” he said. “Just keep them in our minds and offer prayers for the families of the veterans.” 

The legion members also reflected on the meaning of Memorial Day. Williams referred to the day as a moment to reflect upon and honor America’s fallen.

“Memorial Day is a day of solemn remembrance of all those who gave their lives to our country,” he said. 

Haran noted the personal significance of the day. “I lost a number of friends during Vietnam,” he said. Memorial Day “gives me pause to go back and think about them and offer a prayer for them.”

Before the American Legion members left to attend another memorial service in Port Jefferson and the Memorial Day Parade in Setauket, Bruce Miller, second vice-commander of Post 432 and Vietnam War veteran, spoke on behalf of the Steven J. Crowley ceremony, emphasizing the value of appreciating and honoring fallen heroes and the legacies they have left for the nation. 

“It is important to remember these people on this day — and all days — for they have sacrificed much,” he said.

American Legion Post 432 hosts Memorial Day service to honor the fallen. Photo by Raymond Janis

Members of the American Legion Post 432, based out of Port Jefferson Station, held a series of services throughout the community to honor the sacrifices made by American servicemen.

The day began at Steven J. Crowley Memorial Park in Terryville. Cpl. Crowley was a security guard for the United States Marines. In 1979 Crowley made the ultimate sacrifice when he died in the line of duty when the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan, was besieged by a student riot. 

Kevin Powers, sergeant at arms at Post 432, grew up with Crowley. The two later served together in the Marine Corps.

 “He was a good man,” Powers said. “I knew Steven since elementary school and we graduated together. I miss him dearly.”

The memorial service at Crowley Park is an annual tradition at the post. Powers suggested that this event is a yearly reminder of Crowley’s legacy of service and helps to keep a fallen comrade’s memory alive.

“We do this every year,” he said. “It’s an honor to do that for him and for all of the men and women in the service who gave their lives to protect our freedom.”

Ron Romaszka, commander of Post 432, reflected upon his own experiences during the Vietnam War and his brothers in arms who died in combat.

“I lost a lot of guys over in ‘Nam,” he said. “I don’t talk about it all the time. That’s mine and I keep that inside.” On the importance of the day in hand, he added, “Memorial Day has always been a very important day for me. For all of the veterans here, they all have a special feeling inside, and that’s why it’s an important day for all of us.”

Romaszka also touched upon the role of the American Legion in serving veterans throughout the community. “We stand behind every veteran that’s out there,” the post commander said. “For any veteran that needs assistance of any kind, we’re there to assist them. Whether it’s financial, whether it’s medical — whatever it is, we’re there for them.”

The post held a similar ceremony at the Port Jefferson Memorial Park in the village. Trustee Bruce Miller, who also serves as 2nd vice commander of Post 432, shared that freedom is inextricably linked to the sacrifices of American veterans.

“We come to honor the fallen on Memorial Day,” he said. “It is important to look back and remember that our freedom is not free, that we have our freedom because people have fought and died for it.” He added, “It is important to recognize their sacrifice and the sacrifices of those serving today.”

While it may be a solemn occasion, Miller said veterans can find solace this Memorial Day in knowing that American forces are not currently in the line of fire.

“This is the first year in the last 20 that we are not at war,” the village trustee said. “Veterans can rejoice that none of our soldiers, sailors or marines are coming under fire. But as the Ukrainians have shown us, we must always be ready.”

Port Jefferson is a great place to live and people have worked hard to create that freedom. I’m very thankful for their service, for those who have lost their lives, and we honor them.’

— Margot Garant

Mayor Margot Garant offered her own take on Memorial Day. She said she witnessed firsthand the sacrifices of American veterans as several of her family members, including her brother and father, have served.

“I feel that every day in our community is Memorial Day,” she said. “It gives us a time to pause and remember and be thankful for all of the great things that we have.” The village mayor added, “Port Jefferson is a great place to live and people have worked hard to create that freedom. I’m very thankful for their service, for those who have lost their lives, and we honor them.”

The day concluded with one last service at the post, followed by refreshments. To learn more about Post 432 and its various offerings, visit www.americanlegionwilsonritchpost432.org.

— Photos by Raymond Janis