Neighbors celebrate ‘Americanism’ at Law and Order night

A night to celebrate the spirit and safety of Malverne


Every year, neighbors in Malverne gather for a very special night — Law and Order night. No, it isn’t a screening of the popular ‘90s drama. It’s a night for the American Legion Post 44, in Malverne, to honor the men and women who contribute to the spirit and safety of the neighborhood.

“Americanism is an ideal of loyal patriotism, religious tolerance, righteous freedom, fearless courage, honest integrity,” Ed Howard, the vice commander of Post 44, said at the Feb. 28 event. “Abiding faith in the destiny of the United States of America, and a fathomless love for the principles that led our forefathers to found this country.”

Among those honored was James Lang, Ex-Chief of the Malverne Fire Department. Lang began an initiative to take first responders’ mental health more seriously — he educates the firehouse on the telltale signs that someone is having a difficult time dealing with mental health, so they can not only support each other, but recognize when they themselves may benefit from help. His program has spread across the Fourth Battalion.

Jamie and Anastasia Lopez and their three young children were also honored for flying the American flag, as were Robert Coleman and his son, Daniel.

“Thank you to the families who are flying the flag,” State Sen. Patricia Canzoneri-Fitzpatrick said. “You are a wonderful example to your children about having pride in our country.”

Jack Bitoni, a Boy Scout, represented Malverne in this year’s Boys State, an American Legion program where young men have to replicate government on the local, state and federal level. Mayor Tim Sullivan, too, participated in Boys State when he was Bitoni’s age, and said the experience taught him an appreciation for all the Legion does.

Christopher Boddy and Christopher Aresta of the Malverne Police Department were recognized for their service to the neighborhood, including keeping a cool head when they found drugs and a loaded firearm during a traffic stop. And on top of his service to the police force, Aresta is also a firefighter with the Malverne Fire Department. Inspector Jean Lanteri, of the Police Reserves, was also honored for his dedication to the force.

“While the residents of Malverne are safe and secure, sleeping in their beds,” Chief John Aresta, Christopher’s father, said, “The officers of the Malverne Police Department are on the street, patrolling to keep them safe.”

“A night like tonight should make us all proud to be Americans,” said Legislator Bill Gaylor, who served for 23 years as a Lieutenant Colonel with the Army.

“Just appreciate the freedom we have in this country,” Howard said. “And the people that keep us free.”