This past Saturday, November 4, Veterans, friends, neighbors, and community members of all ages gathered in Islandia Village to celebrate one of the first of many Veterans Day Celebrations.
Just across the street from Colonial Francis S. Midura Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 12144 is a monument standing tall, representing the five branches of the military and the Veterans who bravely signed up to join them. Wreaths lined the monument under each branch’s mantra.
“Today we honor our veterans,” said Chaplin Tom Brauner of Post 12144. “Men and women who gave their best when they were called upon to serve and protect our country.” Chaplan Brauner continued with a prayer for those who were fortunate enough to return from their battles: “We respect them, we thank them, we honor them, we are proud of them. We pray that you will watch over these special men and women and bless them with peace and happiness.”
Commander Vincent Dekeris spoke about his post: “We honor the dead by helping the living.” Colonel Francis S. Midura VFW Post 12144 is only eight years old. Established in 2015, the post was named in honor of Army Commander and Monsignor at St. Thomas More Church in Hauppauge. Colonel Midura was a Desert Storm Veteran. Currently, the post is looking for new members after recently reopening with new upgrades to the building. “If you qualify as one of our combat brothers and sisters, please come join us.”
Islandia Mayor and Vietnam Veteran Allan Dorman spoke about what being a Veteran truly means.
“You turn on the TV, you may see some things, hear some things you don’t like; I know I do, but they have the right to say it,” says Mayor Dorman. “Veterans know this, Veterans experience combat, and they know what it is like to have that freedom taken away. It’s something you don’t forget; we are getting older now and we still don’t forget. What we have to make sure is that the civilians of our community, of our country, don’t forget.”
“To be a Veteran is to have a group of people and individuals that love their country and die for their country,” says Mayor Dorman. “Today, if you asked these Veterans ‘Would you die for your country?’ They would. It may take a little while because, well, we’re older now, but we would,”
Mayor Dorman paid tribute to quite a few veterans in our local area, including Captain William Ferris of the United States Navy. Captain Ferris was a swift boat Commander in the Vietnam War where he survived a horrendous attack on his six boats while at sea. He went through two and a half years of physical therapy and returned from war to work as an ADA for twenty years.
A tribute was also said for the late Benard Gribbon who married a local Islandia resident. Gribbon served in Bosnia from 1996-2003 and moved with his family to Pennsylvania afterward. He worked as a bus driver for twelve years, however, was shot five times in the chest and killed last week by a passenger. His funeral was held on Long Island Monday, where his family laid him to rest.
This Islandia celebration and tribute was the first of many around the island this week. The Messenger thanks our Veterans for fighting for our country and risking their lives for our freedom.