The Lawrence-Cedarhurst American Legion Post 339 is commemorating 100 years. The group will celebrate at a Nov. 12 brunch.
Commander Syd Mandelbaum, joined Post 339 as an ode to his parents who were both Holocaust survivors. He invited widows of former American Legionnaires and several elected officials to the centennial celebration. The post opted to hold the brunch during its normal meeting day, the second Sunday of each month.
Mandelbaum will speak on the November 1923 wreath laying ceremony, the first of what became an annual where a fight broke out when Post 339 members attempted to stop the Ku Klux Klan from participating. The New York Times and Brooklyn Eagle covered the ceremony and the riot that ensued as Cornelius Wickersham, first commander of the group was the son of George Wickersham, then attorney general of the United States under President William Taft.
“Our post was very rare because it’s easier to not say anything and let things happen,” he said of the post’s defense against the KKK. “So many of our veterans had fought in World War I for the American freedoms and the Klan did not stand for that. It makes me feel very proud to be a commander.”
Marianela Plaza, 1st Vice Commander of Post 339 and a Marine veteran, joined last year after meeting the group at the Veteran’s Day ceremony.
“We gave up our enlistments, we retired, we want to be a part of something.” Plaza said. “My favorite part is getting to know other people like me that have served this country and that we get to give back to this community.”
Plaza is looking forward to the attention and interest that the anniversary brunch may bring.
“What we want is a little bit of recognition, to show that were still around,” she said. “The American legion is very important to veterans and those who are becoming veterans.”
Pat Alesia, commander of the Malverne Post 44 help regularly with Post 339 events.
“I’m anticipating a pretty good turnout from the membership and the members of the community,” Alesia said. “It will give everyone an opportunity to see that this has been in this neighborhood and this community for 100 years.”
On Saturday, Nov. 11, Post 339 will host their Veteran’s Day Ceremony in Andrew J. Parise Cedarhurst Park to honor all veterans and mark what used to be called Armistice Day, the end of WWI.
Post 339 will also send veterans to Hewlett High School, Hewlett Elementary School and the Franklin Early Childhood Center to speak with students about the importance of the day this week.
“It makes them think about veterans,” Mandelbaum said. “It’s a positive spin for the younger group that may not have relationships with people that served in the military.”
The post has also offers veterans food resources and emotional support. There is Veteran’s Farmers Market every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday morning in the parking lot of Rock and Wrap It Up! in Cedarhurst. Trader Joe’s, Costco and Wall’s Bakery contribute food.
“People don’t just come shop, they come schmooze,” Mandelbaum said. “One veteran supplies coffee, another veteran supplies whiskey if they want to have Irish coffee. It’s a nice place for people to come if they do not have a lot of people at home.”