Public officials gathered before a room of vets at the Long Island State Veterans Home at Stony Brook University for a Memorial Day service Friday, May 27.
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D) gave the keynote address for the event. He continued the theme raised during his State of the County address a week earlier, invoking the example of the Greatest Generation as a model for Americans today.
“I can’t help but think that it’s just at the moment when we see our World War II veterans unfortunately slowly, but inevitably, fade into history, that 80 years later we now see war raging in Europe,” he said. “It’s so important that we never forget what they did.”
For Bellone, American veterans should be honored not only for their service abroad but for the work they perform for communities after they return from the battlefield.
“It’s what veterans always do — they come home after fighting for our country and they build and they strengthen our community,” the county executive said, adding, “To all our veterans who have served, you all have picked up the baton of service. From the Revolutionary War right up to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, American veterans have served and have sacrificed.”
Brookhaven Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich (D-Stony Brook) was also in attendance. Saying that he was inspired by Bellone’s address, the councilmember commented on the need for policymakers to temper their power to wage war and monitor their decisions that threaten peace.
Without memory of the great global conflicts of the 20th century, leaders today may be less cautious in their use of force.
“Maybe people now who are making decisions, who didn’t live through it, maybe they don’t have the same reluctance to engage in war and the same urgency to avoid it,” Kornreich said. “Especially right now, with all of the conflicts that are going on, that’s a very good lesson. I can’t think of a better way to honor the memory of those who have died in war than to try to fight for peace.”
— Photos courtesy of Long Island State Veterans Home