After last Saturday’s rains subsided, the sun peeked through the clouds on Sunday as a new plaque was unveiled at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 1790’s Merrick Road building, illuminating the name Joseph V. Marando Jr.
The late post commander, who died in office in 2017, would have turned 86 on Jan. 6, and in his honor it was decided that on that day, the post would be renamed for him.
“It was like Joe was shining through and showing his presence,” said George Schuchman, a former commander of the Valley Stream American Legion.
As part of the ceremony, some VFW officers spoke of Marando’s dedication to the organization. He was commander 15 times starting in the 1960s, and he was in the position when he died of lymphoma on Oct. 30, 2017.
Past Commander Lou Palermo said at the ceremony that, as commander, Marando would routinely try to fix various items at the post that needed repairs, and current Commander Kevin Hill said that Marando had initially encouraged him to join the VFW, and that he tries to model his leadership as post commander after Marando’s. Additionally, Nick Camarano read a letter from the Western Long Island Marine Corps Legion, which read in part, “We will regroup when we meet in heaven, until then Semper Fidelis.”
Friends and family also spoke of Marando’s life outside of the VFW. His daughter Benedetta Ginsberg spoke for her siblings and said that their father raised them to be kind and considerate. Mayor Ed Fare also spoke about Marando’s involvement in Valley Stream organizations.
Marando served on a committee to build a memorial on the Village Green for those who died in war, was a member of the Fire Department in the 1960s, and served as deputy director of parks from 1954 to 1987. He also served as the president of the Valley Stream Veterans Association and helped bring the Vietnam Moving Wall — a miniature version of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., which tours the country — to Valley Stream for several weeks more than 20 years ago.
“He was a man who possessed true community spirit,” Fare said in his speech.
About 200 Valley Streamers, veterans and friends then gathered outside of the East Merrick Road building to watch as Marando’s children uncovered a cloth to reveal the plaque dedicating the post to their father. “Every person who drives past the VFW will see Joe Marando’s name forever,” Fare said.
A life of service
Marando was born in Coney Island on Jan. 6, 1933. He moved to Valley Stream at the age of 2, and attended the Saint Boniface School and Sewanhaka Central High School District schools. He joined the Marines in 1950 and was deployed to Korea, where he fought in Pusan, Inchon, Seoul and the Chosin Reservoir.
While in the Marines, Marando received a Purple Heart, a Good Conduct Ribbon, a Korean Ribbon with three Battle Stars, a Marine Corp Combat Ribbon and a United Nations Ribbon. After he returned home in 1952, he also received a Presidential Unit Citation from President Harry Truman. and a Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation from the South Korean government.
He joined the VFW in 1958. There, he would often sit at his desk, surrounded by pictures that he had painted — a hobby he routinely kept until his death — photos of his family and newspaper clippings, and playing scratch-off games. Marando also encouraged younger veterans to join the VFW, including Peter Yarmel, who served in the Marine Corps in Iraq. “I wasn’t really holding down a job, and I started bartending here,” Yarmel recalled to the Herald in 2017. “He got me back on my feet again.”
Marando was predeceased by his wife, Bella. He was survived by his children, Mary Jo Dodson, Joseph (Lori), Tina Santos (Maurice), Benedetta Ginsberg (Robert) and William (Andrea); nine grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren.