At the Veterans Day ceremony in Cedarhurst, one single sentence stood out above the rest that encapsulates what the day means.
“As we gather here today to honor these heroes it is our duty to go out of our way to show these veterans genuine acts of kindness that is why Assemblyman Ari Brown will be donating a kidney to a veteran in need within the next month,” said Rabbi Mickey Edery, speaking for Brown who attended another Veterans Day ceremony. Brown is also Cedarhurst village’s deputy mayor.
“Wow,” was the response from one person followed by crowd applause in Andrew J. Parise Cedarhurst Park last Saturday.
“He feels it’s the least he can do to give back a veteran in need,” Edery reciting Brown’s words. “Today, I ask that you reflect and recognize American values and the sacrifices it takes to keep our country and people safe.”
Veterans Day — commemorated in the 11th month, on the 11th day at the 11th hour — was first called Armistice Day, the day World War I ended. It became Veterans Day, a day to honor all military personnel, in 1954.
This year’s ceremony took on increased significance in the Five Towns with the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict as the park’s United States and POW/MIA flags fly at half-mast.
“We carry being a veteran in our hearts,” said Syd Mandelbaum, the commander of the Lawrence-Cedarhurst American Legion Post 339 that is celebrating its centennial this year.
Mandelbaum pointed to one of the plaques on the park’s military veteran memorial and recounted the 1923 encounter between men from the newly formed post and Ku Klux Klan members who wanted to take part in the memorial’s dedication on Nov. 29 of that year.
“We are on hallowed ground,” he said, adding he is the son of Holocaust survivors. “The KKK was very active and wanted to lay a wreath and Cornelius Wickersham (the post’s commander) would not allow it. We beat the something out them.”
“The history of our community doing the right thing goes back 100 years,” Mandelbaum added.
John J. Oliveri Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1582 was also represented as its commander, Miguel Martinez, whose brief words struck a poignant chord as a Long Island Rail Road train chugged into the station.
“Let’s not forget our obligations to other veterans and the family of the fallen,” he said. “On this day we honor all that have served honorably who are still with us. Be proud of your service. All we have is the love and support of other veterans, our family, friends that support us in the time of need.”
Cedarhurst Trustee Daniel Plaut with his wife, Tova, shared his immediate personal connection to Veterans Day.
“Our son Samuel, who some of you may know, has chosen to follow the footsteps of the many veterans we honor here today,” Daniel said. “He is currently serving in the United States Marines dedicating himself to the cause of defending our great nation. His decision to serve fills me with immense pride and also reminds me of the responsibilities we all share in supporting our service men and women.”
Town of Hempstead Councilwoman Melissa Miller noted her father and uncle’s Korean War service.
“The freedoms we enjoy here to day are because of you,” she said, looking at the veterans in attendance.
Noting the Oct. 7 attack, Cedarhurst Mayor Benjamin Weinstock said supporting veterans could unite us.
“It’s only proper and fitting that the United States respect its veterans the way Israel respects its veterans,” he said.