Tags Posts tagged with "Veterans Day"

Veterans Day

VFW Post 6249 in Rocky Point hosts its annual Veterans Day service on Saturday, Nov. 11. Photo courtesy Joe Cognitore

By Aidan Johnson

As Veterans Day once again arrived on Nov. 11, members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6249 in Rocky Point took the time to pay their respects to all those who have served in the military.

“As a veteran, I stand before you with a profound sense of pride, humility and gratitude,” said Joe Cognitore, commander of Post 6249, in a speech to those in attendance. “I’ve been where many of you and our fellow service members have been, serving our great country with unwavering dedication, yet facing the many challenges that come with it.”

Cognitore made it a point to focus on the importance of Veterans Day not only from the perspective of being a veteran and VFW post member but also from “the collective duty we as U.S. citizens share in honoring our veterans and ensuring the truth and essence of this day is not forgotten.”

“Veterans Day isn’t really about acknowledging our service or expressing gratitude,” he continued. “It is about making Veterans Day a touchstone for understanding, education and appreciation for our Americans.”

“And I believe it’s our job as veterans to help ensure the true significance of this day isn’t lost in the noise of the [store] sales or everyday life,” he added.

Suffolk County Legislator Nick Caracappa (C-Selden) spoke at the event and expressed appreciation for the national holiday and the local veterans community.

“If you think about it, what these guys do, especially at this post, they are out in our communities every single day making a difference, as are many other posts,” he said in an interview. “All veterans continue to serve our communities and our country, so it’s only fitting that we recognize them and appreciate them and realize that they are out there on a daily basis.”

Cognitore mentioned upcoming events at the post, including the opening of the Suffolk County World War II and Military History Museum on Dec. 7 located at the former Rocky Point train station across the street from the VFW post, and a Christmas party on Dec. 9.

By Aramis Khosronejad

American Legion Wilson Ritch Post 432 recognized Veterans Day on Saturday, Nov. 11, with a ceremony at the Port Jefferson Veterans Memorial Park in front of the harbor.

The ceremony consisted of a speech saluting and memorializing U.S. troops and veterans. Wilson Ritch Post 432 is dedicated to providing “support all around” to service members and veteran families, according to post Cmdr. Bob Masterson. The post was established in 1919 and has provided services for the Long Island veterans and the military community ever since.

Masterson was appointed commander this year, a position he said was a “great honor” for him. Masterson has been a member of Post 432 for 30 years. He was born in the Bronx and joined the military in 1961, serving as a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne Division. Once he left the Army, he came out to the Long Island area and “did what I could to support the post.”

This Veterans Day service has lasted for five decades, according to Masterson. The ceremony aims to “tell the general public what us veterans have been through,” he said.

The commander also stated how the post aims to “try to enlist as many veterans that are still out there, to get them involved in the American Legion and give them the support they need.” “Whether it’s physical or emotional support or employment support, all they need to do is go to a local post and sign up and build the American Legion and its cause,” he continued.

The Veterans Memorial in Port Jeff represents an ideal place to hold the Veterans Day ceremony because of the “history and tradition” the harbor has, Masterson said.

He went on to explain the services that the Legion provides for Veterans. “We support Stony Brook Veterans Home,” he explained. “For those inside the home, we prepare events for them and have parties for them — support all around.”

Masterson concluded his commemoration by saying, “Give my blessing for all that [veterans] have done for us. It keeps us moving forward.”

By Michael Scro 

Greenlawn celebrated Veterans Day with a wreath-laying ceremony at Greenlawn Memorial Park on Saturday, Nov. 11, where a large crowd of local veterans, residents, law enforcement, Scouts and other community groups gathered at 11 a.m. to support the holiday’s tradition.

Originally named Armistice Day to commemorate the end of World War I on Nov. 11, 1918, the holiday was renamed Veterans Day in 1954, passed by Congress and signed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower (R). Each year, it is held to honor military veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces.

Hosted by American Legion Greenlawn Post 1244 on a comfortably crisp and sunny November morning, post Cmdr. Trisha Northover said, “To serve is to give, it is to find access to joy.”

“There are many things that come to mind,” Northover added. “We are struggling through conflict, and a new generation will be called up to honor and serve the country. Each person that puts on the uniform knows they can give up their life — it is simply the most honorable thing that one can do.”

1st Vice Cmdr. Carlo Giordano spoke about the programs the American Legion supports, such as the Boys and Girls State, where high school juniors spend a week in July at a college upstate to participate and learn about democratic government and gain leadership experience. Over the course of 15 years, Giordano said Post 1244 has sent over 200 students. The organization also supports Operation Enduring Care, which assists veterans who require assistance due to illness or homelessness.

Giordano concluded by saying, “I am proud to be a veteran, and especially proud to be part of the American Legion.”

The wreaths were laid beside a monument stone at Greenlawn Memorial Park, which has a plaque for American Legion Post 1244 and states, “Dedicated to those who made the supreme sacrifice — Village of Greenlawn 1960.”

The ceremony concluded with the playing of taps.

Embark on a journey with our reporter to Sherwood-Jayne Farm in East Setauket, capturing the intensity of protesters rallying against Preservation Long Island’s plan to remove its farm animals. Then, delve into municipal land-use policy as we dissect the Brookhaven Town Board’s consideration of a zone change for the Jefferson Plaza shopping center in Port Jefferson Station.

But that’s not all — dive into the excitement of Ward Melville and Earl L. Vandermeulen high schools’ postseason volleyball runs with our sportswriter. Then, join us in reflecting on the crucial role of local election inspectors and the urgent need for more volunteers to uphold our democratic process.

Photo by Heidi Sutton

“Thank you for your service.”

Especially around Veterans Day, we say and hear these words many times. We express our gratitude and appreciation for American veterans, those who risked it all so that we may enjoy our cherished American freedoms.

The freedom to speak one’s mind. The freedom to exercise one’s sincere religious convictions. The freedom to peaceably assemble and petition government — and the freedom of the press.

While we often take these freedoms for granted, we must remember that they are not guaranteed. Throughout our national history — from imperial Britain to the Confederate States to the Axis powers to al-Qaida — our enemies have sought to deprive us of our sacred freedoms. They have sought to undermine and wipe away our way of life and our democracy.

Standing in their way time and again have been American service members. To protect and defend our democratic norms and our way of life, veterans risked their lives, many paying the ultimate sacrifice.

Along the North Shore, we live among some of American history’s greatest patriots. No matter his or her tour of service, each veteran has a story to share. And crucially, many have carried the banner of service back into civilian life, building up our local communities and making this a better place to live.

We would be deeply troubled by the loss of local and national historical memory. Thankfully, we have history courses built into elementary and middle school curricula. We also enjoy and sincerely appreciate the efforts of local historical societies here preserving our history.

History gives us roots, establishing a sense of who we are and where we came from. To move forward as a community and nation, we must first grasp how we arrived at where we are. Fortunately for us on Long Island, we have a path ahead.

At the former Rocky Point train station, a collection of veterans and local volunteers are building out the Suffolk County World War II and Military History Museum. This regional veterans museum, to be operated by VFW Post 6249, aims to tell the stories of local service members from across Long Island. The museum is slated to launch on Thursday, Dec. 7.

Since learning of this project, our staff has enthusiastically supported its mission. We believe the museum will help foster two of our central goals as a staff: informing locals about their community and inspiring love for this place we call home.

As this year’s Veterans Day services wind down, we can all help this museum get off the ground. The museum is actively seeking donations in the form of equipment, uniforms, combat supplies and other artifacts and memorabilia.

We ask our readers to honor a veteran in their own lives by donating. We urge all to help lend a hand — because these stories are too valuable to lose to history.

To donate, contact the museum’s curator, Rich Acritelli, by emailing [email protected].

Eric Waxman, Jr. honored as the Veteran of the Game at the September 24th, 2023 NY Yankees Game in the Bronx. Pictured with Eric is his grandson, U.S. Army Major Eric Waxman IV.

By Rita J. Egan

This year, receiving special recognition for his military service came earlier than Nov. 11 for one local veteran. The New York Yankees honored Eric Waxman Jr., of East Setauket, during their Veteran of the Game ceremony on Sept. 24. The occasion coincided with his 96th birthday.

The Korean War veteran has been a fan of the Yankees since 1934. He said his first baseball game was with his dad, and on Sept. 24, he was escorted on the field by his grandson Army Major Eric Waxman IV.

Waxman is a familiar face in the community due to his past and current community service with St. James R.C. Church, the Knights of Columbus and the Three Village Historical Society.

Active duty

U.S. Army 1st Lieutenant Eric Waxman, Jr.

While studying at Fordham University, he was enrolled in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program. He had served in the Army earlier, from 1945 to 1946, which qualified him to be advanced in the ROTC program. After completing his training, he was called to active duty in the U. S. Army in September 1951.

During the war, the then New Hyde Park resident was stationed in Germany and was part of the Cold War force. The era marked a time filled with tension between the former Soviet Union and the United States.

“They told us we were the only army that was between the communist Russians and the North Sea,” he said.

Waxman served as a 1st Lieutenant with the 14th Armored Field Artillery Battalion, 2nd Armored Division as a forward observer. In the case of combat, he said, it would mean that he would stand at the shoulder of an infantry lieutenant at the front line or a soldier in a tank. His job would be to adjust the fire on the target.

“It was a little bit frightening to know that you were adjusting artillery fire on a simulated target but it was live ammunition,” he said. “That was exciting and I’d say exhilarating to be adjusting real live ammunition.”

Between his earlier service and his time spent in Germany, he served a total of 39 months. He was placed in a reserve unit in September of 1953 for a short time and soon after was retired from the military.

Life and service after the Army

After serving in the military, Waxman entered the education field. For most of his career, he was a high school principal. His first stint in the position was in Mountain Lakes, New Jersey, for 10 years. He would then go on to be principal at Harborfields High School for three years and William Floyd School District for eight. When he retired from being a principal, he was an assistant dean at Touro Law School for 14 years.

He and his wife, Anne, moved to the Three Village area 46 years ago and raised seven children. Today, their family has grown to include 34 grandchildren and 17 great-grandchildren, with three more on the way.

Through the decades, Waxman has balanced community service with career and family. He was involved in the Three Village Historical Society for 20 years, serving on the board for seven of those years and helping out with the society’s various tours.

His love for history began when he taught the subject in a junior high school before becoming a principal.

“I have a deep appreciation for the importance of the study of the past,” he said.

During his time with the historical society, he said he enjoyed discussing Colonial and Revolutionary times with those who attended events such as the society’s Spirits Tour and Village Green Walking Tours.

Three Village Historical Society historian Beverly C. Tyler said Waxman always made himself available to help at society events.

“He was one of those people who we could really rely on to always be there,” Tyler said.

The historian said when leading tours, Waxman had a knack for covering what was needed for participants to understand. At the same time, he knew to avoid getting too complex about the history.

“He’s very knowledgeable, and he has an incredible depth of information,” Tyler said. “People enjoy listening to him.”

While Waxman no longer volunteers for the historical society events, he remains an active member of St. James church’s parish and its Knights of Columbus.

Father Robert Kuznik has been with the church for more than two years and said getting to know Waxman “has been a highlight.”

“He’s a humble but a constant presence,” Kuznik said. “You know that if something is happening in our faith community, he is there.”

Kuznik said Waxman is part of several groups in the parish that provide help to the community in addition to his involvement in the Knights of Columbus, where he participates in the food and blood drives. He also works with fellow parishioners to help organizations such as the Life Center of Long Island, which helps pregnant women in need and young women with children.

“Mr. Waxman is a man of great wisdom,” he said. “He brings his experience and knowledge together and uses them well. It is such a great privilege, such a blessing to be so often in the presence of this wonderful man.”

Kuznik said Waxman frequently reads the Scriptures during Sunday Mass and other services, and he also comes once a month to help and pray at a Mass for young people with disabilities.

“At heart, he is an educator, an incredible communicator,” the priest said. “Listening to him making an announcement in his booming voice, his style, repetition, you know instantly that whoever was in there will walk out well informed.” 

Reflecting on his military service

Waxman said he feels there is a lot to gain from serving in the military.

“Learning to discipline yourself and to be task-oriented is helpful no matter what you do with your life, and you get the training that you need to learn the importance of discipline and obedience in the basic training of the armed forces,” he said.

At the same time, he is concerned for service members, especially his grandson Eric, who has been deployed to Afghanistan three times.

“We’re so proud that he’s going to serve,” Waxman said. “I think that’s the main thing, finding men and women who are willing to serve their country in time of need.”

Waxman described war as “the last resort to solve a disagreement.”

“I’m proud to be an American and to have had the opportunity to serve,” he said.”I hope that we’re able to make our way in the world as a nation, and I hope that we live in more peaceful times in the future.”

From left to right, physician assistants Michelle Rosa and Katherine Malloy, Dr. David Fiorella and Dr. Jason Mathew visit Joseph Annunziata in his hospital bed. Photo from Stony Brook Medicine

By Daniel Dunaief

Joseph “Bob” Annunziata, a resident of Kings Park, wants you not to be like him.

An army veteran, Annunziata urges residents and, in particular, other veterans, to pay attention to their medical needs and to take action when they find out they have a problem. 

A self-described “tough guy” who grew up in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, Annunziata put off medical care for a partially blocked left carotid artery and it caused a medical crisis.

“My brother and sister vets, if you got a pain or the doctor tells you to do something, do it,” he said. “It almost cost me my life. I don’t want that to happen to anyone else.”

Joseph Annunziata at his 80th birthday party

Annunziata, 80, was driving to the supermarket on Veterans Day when his right hand became limp and he was slurring his speech. Knowing he was in trouble, he turned the car around and drove 10 minutes to the Northport VA Medical Center.

The doctors evaluated him and rushed him to Stony Brook University Hospital, which is well equipped to handle stroke-related emergencies and is the only hospital in the state named one of America’s 100 Best Hospitals for Stroke Care for eight years in a row. 

Several doctors evaluated Annunziata, including by Dr. David Fiorella, Director of the Stony Brook Cerebrovascular Center and Co-Director of the Stony Brook Cerebrovascular and Comprehensive Stroke Center, and Jason Mathew, stroke neurologist.

“We identified that there was a severe blockage in the left side of his brain,” said Dr. Mathew. “If blood flow is not returned to this area, the patient is at risk for a larger area of stroke.”

Indeed, a larger stroke could have caused right side paralysis and could have robbed Annunziata of his ability to speak or worse.

Performing emergency surgery could protect endangered brain cells, but also presented some risk. If not removed carefully and completely, the clot in the carotid artery could travel into the brain or the stroke could expand over time due to a lack of sufficient blood flow to the left side of the brain.

Time pressure

Stony Brook doctors discussed the particulars of the case together and explained the situation to Annunziata, who could understand what they were describing and respond despite symptoms that threatened to deteriorate.

The hospital, which does between 200 and 250 interventional stroke treatments per year and handles many more strokes than that annually, has a group of health care specialists who can provide accessible information to patients who are not experts in the field and who need to make an informed decision under time pressure.

Stony Brook has become adept at “conveying this complex information in a time-sensitive way,” Dr. Fiorella said. In those cases for which surgery is the best option, each minute that the doctors don’t open up a blood vessel reduces the benefits and increases the risk of longer-term damage.

Stony Brook sees about one to two of these kinds of cases per month. As a whole, the hospital, which is a large referral center, sees numerous complex and unusual cerebrovascular cases of all types, Dr. Fiorella said.

Annunziata and the doctors decided to have the emergency surgery.

Dr. Fiorella used a balloon guiding catheter, which is a long tube with a working inner lumen that has a soft balloon on the outside of it that is designed to temporarily block flow. He deploys these occlusion balloons in most all stroke cases. 

The particular way he used it in these complete carotid occlusions is unique. The balloon guiding catheter makes interventional stroke procedures more efficient, safer, and the outcomes better, according to data for thrombectomy, Dr. Fiorella said. 

The occlusion balloon enabled Dr. Fiorella to control blow flow the entire time, which makes the procedure safer. The surgery took under an hour and involved a small incision in Annunziata’s right wrist.

Joseph Annunziata with his girlfriend Rosemarie Madrose

After the surgery, Annunziata was able to speak to doctors and call Rosemarie Madrose, his girlfriend of five and a half years. “He came out talking,” said Madrose. “I could understand him. I was relieved.” Four days after the emergency operation, Annunziata, who also received post operative care from Dr. Yuehjien Gu, Neurocritical Care Unit Director, left the hospital and returned to his home, where he spent the next morning preparing a welcome meal of a scrambled egg and two slices of toast.

The doctors attribute Annunziata’s quick recovery to a host of factors. Getting himself to the hospital as soon as symptoms started saved precious minutes, Dr. Fiorella said, as “time is brain.” He also advised against driving for people having stroke-like symptoms, which can include slurred speech, numbness, weakening of the arm or leg and loss of vision in one eye.

Dr. Fiorella urged people to call for help or to get a ride in an ambulance. Stony Brook has two mobile stroke unit ambulances, which are equipped with technology to assess patients while en route, saving time and alerting doctors in the hospital to patients who might need immediate attention and intervention.

These mobile units, which are available from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., have helped reduce death and disability for stroke and have cut down the length of stays in the hospital.

People or family and friends who are observing someone who might be having a stroke can call 911 and indicate that the patient is having stroke-like symptoms. The emergency operator will alert the mobile stroke unit of a possible case if the unit is available and the patient is in range.

Helping a veteran

The doctors involved in Annunziata’s care were well aware of the fact that they were treating a veteran on Veterans Day.

“Oftentimes, we think about how we can give back more than just a thank you” to people like Annunziata, who “risked his life and helped his country the way he could,” said Dr. Mathew. “I’m helping him the way I can help.”

Dr. Fiorella added that he thought it was “wonderful” to “help someone who’s given so much to our country on Veterans Day.”

Army origin

Annunziata explained that he wound up in the Army through a circuitous route.  “We watched all the war movies” when he was young and wanted to join the Marines, he said.

When he went to enlist in 1962, he was told there was a two and a half year wait. He and his young friends got the same reception at the Air Force, Navy and the Army. As they were leaving the Army building on Whitehall Street, he and his friends ran into a sergeant with numerous medals on his uniform. The sergeant urged them to go back up the hallway and enter the first door on the right and indicate that they wanted to expedite the draft. About a week later, Annunziata was drafted and got a 15 cent token in the mail for a train trip to Wall Street.

After basic training at Fort Dix, he was stationed in Greenland, where Annunziata operated a radar at the top of a mountain for two years. He participated in drills in which he had to catch American planes flying overhead.

Fortunately, he said, even during the height of the Cold War and just months after the Cuban Missile Crisis, Annunziata never spotted a Russian threat, even though the base was just 20 minutes from Russian air space.

Having gone through emergency surgery that likely saved his life, Annunziata urges residents to pay attention to any medical needs on their radar.

Dr. Fiorella was amazed at how quickly Annunziata expressed concern for his fellow veterans during his recovery.

“One of the first things he talked about was, ‘How can I use what happened to me to help other vets?’” Dr. Fiorella said.

Annunziata’s girlfriend Madrose, who is grateful that the procedure saved his life, said he “didn’t listen to me. He knew he had to do this. I kept saying, ‘When are you going to do it?’ He said, ‘I will, I will, I will.’ He learned the hard way.” She added that they both know he is “extremely lucky.”

By Michael Scro

A Veteran’s Day ceremony was held at Greenlawn Memorial Park this past Veterans Day on November 11th at 11 a.m., where attendees participated in the honoring of veterans of the United States Armed Forces.

Hosted by American Legion Post 1244, it featured neighboring American Legion members, Greenlawn Fire Department members, as well as community groups, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, and family/friends of veterans.

Donna Boyle, commander of American Legion Post 1244, noted it is the only ceremony in the Town of Huntington that is held on Veteran’s Day, and said the ceremony notes all six branches of the United States Military: Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, Coast Guard and Space Force.

“America has been an all volunteer force since before 1978, which is when I joined the service,” Boyle said. “Approximately one percent of Americans have assumed the responsibility for ensuring that America’s ideals continue, and we owe these veterans a large thank you.”

Father John Carr, Chapin of American Legion Post 1244, read aloud a prayer to honor veterans, followed by the wreath presentations around the memorial statues and monuments at the park.  Wreaths were presented by American Legion 1244, Greenlawn Fire Department, Greenlawn Civic Association, Greenlawn Lions Club, Girl Scout Troop 706 and 519 and Boy Scout Troop 2255 and 32.

“We thank everyone for coming out today, and we thank our young children for coming to learn respect for American — it is very important,” Boyle said.

Above, local veteran Jim Henke during the memorial service on Friday, Nov. 11. Photo by Raymond Janis

At a playground in Sound Beach resides a small memorial dedicated to Bruce Kerndl and Charles Prchal, two American servicemen who died in Vietnam in 1966 and 1969, respectively.

Every year on Veterans Day, Sound Beach resident Jim Henke, a local Vietnam War veteran who fought alongside these fallen heroes, leads an informal dedication ceremony to celebrate their lives. This year would be no different.

On Friday, Nov. 11, Henke led the morning service once again. He has held this service every year since 1997, he said. To the small crowd of spectators gathered at the playground, he outlined why he comes back.

Above, a wreath was placed on the grounds of the memorial, honoring fallen heroes Bruce Kerndl and Charles Prchal. Photo by Raymond Janis

“They died in vain, horrible deaths for Charlie and Bruce, and in combat,” he said. “We’re going to die at home, and we’ve lived our lives. They didn’t have that chance.”

Despite the solemn occasion of this gathering, the mood was joyful and uplifting. Henke and others delivered impromptu speeches throughout the morning, with plenty of jokes and humorous anecdotes. 

Henke described the event as spontaneous and unrehearsed without a script, a program or a list of speakers. What is spoken, he noted, comes from the heart. “I do everything from the top of my head,” he said.

Henke then opened the floor for anyone to acknowledge a veteran in his or her own life. For him, Veterans Day is not a day for solitary reflection but for family, friends and community to come together to honor the fallen. For this reason, the yearly memorial is a highly collaborative setting. 

In holding this service, Henke keeps the memory and legacy of Kerndl and Prchal alive. Though their deaths were premature, Henke refuses to let them be forgotten.

“Their parents went to their grave knowing that their sons weren’t forgotten,” he said. “I promised them I’ll do it until I die.”