Across the township, VFWs and American Legions teamed up with local organizations and officials to commemorate the sacrifices of our Veterans in a variety of ways. The St. James and Kings Park Parades, as well as the Smithtown Veterans Plaza Ceremony, were mirrored by similar commemorations around the Island.
The American Legion – James Ely Miller Post 833 and Smithtown VFW Post 10870 hosted a ceremony in honor of Veterans past and present at the Smithtown Veterans Plaza on West Main Street.
The event was guided by Thomas Mooney, service officer of Post 833, and featured large participation from the Smithtown Central School District and local Cub Scouts and Girl Scouts groups.
“On this day, Armistice Day, we honor the men and women whose sacrifices made liberty part of our reality,” said Bill Coderre, commander of Post 833.
He continued to say that “If you are here today, you are one of the more patriotic citizens who honor veterans for their services and what their comrades fell to defend,” before thanking the crowd further for honoring the same Veterans that “ensure our way of life.”
“You have made our armed forces the most respected in the world,” said Mooney to the many Veterans present. “The Veterans and service members we honor today come from all walks of life, but they shared several fundamental qualities; they possessed courage, pride, determination, selflessness, dedication to duty and integrity…”
The Smithtown High School West woodwind ensemble, composed of Mikayla Grafstein, Anna DiBiase, Sean Bauer, Catalina Kreitzman, Ethan Kim, Nicholas Pelc, Eric Crush, Kevin Castellano, Matthew Lasher, and James Corcoran, played a patriotic medley of music for the crowd.
The 1st Place winner of the VFW 2022 Voice of Democracy Essay Contest, Olivia Wolber (pictured bottom right), read aloud her essay titled: ‘Why is the Veteran important?’ The essay received 385 out of a possible 400 points and was selected from a pool of several hundred essays from the Smithtown area.
One excerpt of Olivia’s essay reads: “They are examples for all to look up to thank and follow. They are educators of love and tolerance. They are reminders to the youth and to the naive why we should rise for our pledge to the flag of a country we get to call our own. They remind us why we put our right hand over our beating hearts during our national anthem. Because it is them who had the whites of their eyes go red from crying their tears of blue in heartbreak watching brothers and sisters fall around them.”
Wolber’s essay now advances to the VFW County level, where it may be selected for the District level and beyond.
“Everybody needs to understand how important that is and it is there and look and see what our Veterans have done for us,” said Senator Mario Mattera. “Freedom isn’t free.”
“As a Vietnam Veteran, I am honored to be here with all of you today to salute all Veterans – all men and women of the United States Military,” said Supervisor Wehrheim.
“Everyone of us in elected office owes a tremendous debt of gratitude, just as we do as Americans, to Veterans that have joined the service and traveled all over the world in the name of democracy,” said Suffolk Comptroller John M. Kennedy Jr. “We just saw three days ago what makes us the most unique and sincere and profound nation in the world, that we are a democracy, and we are a democracy because of our Veterans.”
Mooney noted that it was a particularly sorrowful year for the Post, which lost five members in the past year alone, which weighed on attendees’ minds.
Cub Scouts Pack 340 assisted in raising the flags of the various branches of the military, and Girl Scouts Troop 1263 sang a rendition of “God Bless America.”
The VFW Post 5796 and American Legion Post 944 – Donald C. Munro were present among a plethora of groups at the annual Kings Park Veterans Day parade.
The parade started at RJO Intermediate School on 99 Old Dock Rd. across from St Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church. The bells rang patriotic songs before the start of the parade, which proceeded down Old Dock Rd and then west down 25a to end at the Kings Park Veterans Plaza adjacent to the Smithtown Library – Kings Park Building.
The VFW Post, between the starting and ending points of the parade on Church Street, made itself available to community members for refreshments.
Members of the Ancient Order of Hibernians Division 3, Sea Cadets from New York LPD21 Division, Boy Scouts Troop 539, the Knights of Columbus – Council 821, and joined the parade route along with local firefighters and student performances, as well as taking part in the ceremony.
Hosted by VFW Post 395, the St. James Veterans Day Parade started at the intersection of Lake Avenue and Woodlawn Avenue. The parade ran along Lake Avenue to St. James Elementary. A Veteran’s Day Ceremony started shortly after the parade at St. James Elementary School.