More than 50 veterans, police officers, firefighters and village residents assembled at the John Anderson Recreation Center on Monday to honor the millions of American men and women who have served their country in its armed forces.
After the colors were raised and the Pledge of Allegiance recited, Rockville Centre Mayor Francis Murray stepped up to the podium to commemorate the occasion.
“On Veterans Day, we honor our heroes,” Murray said. “We remember their achievements, their dedication, and say thank you for their sacrifices. … Let us rededicate ourselves to serving them as well as they have served us.”
American Legion Post 303 Commander Joseph Scarola, who presided over the ceremony, began it by recognizing the veterans and family members who were in attendance, including former Mayor Eugene Murray and Marianna Winchester, mother of 1st Lt. Ronald Winchester of the Marines, who was killed in Al Anbar Province in Iraq in 2004, at age 25.
Scarola reminded the gathering of the many challenges veterans face when they return from service. They frequently struggle to find jobs, he said, and those who succeed often have reduced earning potential.
Scarola also stressed the importance of recognizing veterans’ family members. “Sometimes we forget the suffering of the family,” he said. “No, liberty does not come cheap.
“We are only now starting to realize the magnitude of problems that some veterans have with mental issues,” he added. “And, again, the family suffers while the veteran suffers.”
Scarola recounted attending the funeral of an old friend, whose widow told him that she had been married once before, to an Army medic. She described her ex-husband to Scarola, calling him the “kindest, sweetest, gentlest” boy she had ever known. Then he went to Vietnam, and came back changed for the worse.
At 11 a.m., Scarola rang a bell three times in honor of what used to be known as Armistice Day, marking the end of World War I on Nov. 11, 1918.
“It is now the eleventh hour,” he said. “Let us now ring the bell and remember the ending of the Great War. Let us remember all the wars veterans have served in. Let us remember all who have served and who are serving now. Let us remember the families of our veterans.”