New veteran banners adorn the Village of Valley Stream in time for Memorial Day

It's a touching way to connect and stay connected to hometown veterans.


There’s no shortage of appreciation for veterans in the Village of Valley Stream, and the installation ceremony for the Veterans Banner program on May 17 was no exception. Village officials joined with families in the unveiling of banners displaying the names and faces of hometown veterans hung along the annual Memorial Day parade route.

The program asked Valley Stream families to submit photos of their loved ones along with their name, branch, rank, and years of service. That information was then used to fashion the banners, which will stay up until Veterans’ Day in November and stored during the winter months before being reinstalled in the spring. Many banners have already been put on display, and the village aims to have all of them hung up by Memorial Day.

Mayor Ed Fare, who applied for four banners to honor different members of his family, said that the program is an important new tradition.

“These are just ways to connect and stay connected to our veterans and our heroes and be reminded of that,” Fare said during his speech at the ceremony.

“We honor all veterans, those who are with us here today, those who have sadly passed away, but especially those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty for our great country.”

Angela Ogurick had a banner commissioned for her father, Frank Gaeta, a World War II former prisoner of war. Ogurick first introduced the banner program to the Valley Stream Chamber of Commerce after seeing other towns with similar programs and having her cousin’s likeness displayed on a banner. She said that after the war, her father was involved with many programs to help other POWs and that, because of this, honoring him is extremely important to her.

“It means a lot to me because he did everything, he possibly could for other POWs that didn’t make it home in good condition,” Ogurick said. “He did a lot of fundraising. That’s why he went around with daisies to try to make things more comfortable for people in the hospital.”

Pat Ferro and Joan Grossman were also in attendance at the ceremony to honor their father, Dominic John Raia, a World War II army veteran whose banner hangs on West Maple Street in front of his brother’s home.

“They served our country and we wouldn’t be here if they didn’t,” said Ferro. “So I think they should teach that more in school, what our veterans did for this country ... We have to honor them.”

George Catalanotto, a Vietnam war veteran and a member of VFW Post 1790 and DAV chapter 145, helped to submit the information for a banner honoring Howard Klacksman, a former commander of the American Legion and decorated Vietnam veteran who received a Purple Heart.

Catalanotto said that he thinks the banner program is essential to remind people of the importance of the sacrifices veterans made.

“I think as time goes on, people take for granted this country,” said Catalanotto. “We’re so concerned about our individual challenges, but I can’t say with any more sincerity, the expression: ‘Freedom isn’t free.’”

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