It was a gray and overcast afternoon last Friday, but there was no shortage of patriotic color and spirit shown by the modest crowd of residents who came out to celebrate Veterans Day at the Village Bandshell.
The annual ceremony began with the presentation of colors by members of the American Legion Post 854, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1700 alongside the Valley Stream scout units. The National Anthem was sung by Moises Rodriguez of the Valley Stream Volunteer Fire Department.
Rev. David Regan, pastor of Holy Name of Mary Church, delivered the invocation.
“First and foremost, I want to begin by recognizing all of those among us who have been part of the great brother and sisterhood we call the U.S. military,” said retired Chief Naval Aircrewman and master of ceremonies, William G. Hartig, addressing the crowd. “Our veterans, active-duty service members, guardsmen, and reservists through their service and sacrifice have kept our country safe and free. Once again, we set aside challenges and crises that confront and concern us individually and as a nation to reaffirm America’s veterans and their families that a grateful nation remembers.”
“We are here to pay tribute to our service members: to remember their achievements, their courage, their dedication and to say thank you for their sacrifices,” said Mayor Ed Fare. “There are many words of patriotism — loyalty and pride — but the word that must dominate all our thoughts this morning is gratitude.”
George Catalanotto, a member of the Disabled American Veterans, conducted the remembrance ceremony for the National League of Families of American Prisoners and Missing in Southeast Asia.
“An empty chair with the POW banner draped over the back is always kept at all ceremonies so that we reserve a place for those veterans who have not yet returned home,” said Catalanotto, pointing to an empty chair with a table with various patriotic tokens, a symbolically rich reminder of the grief, honor, and pride given to those soldiers missing in action and who died abroad as prisoners of war.
“We relied on them, and they have not forsaken us. They gave us their all. We remember them always. We will remember them always.”