Valley Stream village residents celebrated Veterans Day at the Bandshell during a day of commemorative song and prayer, speeches, a salute, and the sharing of a meal together. The ceremony featured a display of America’s historic military might as old military jeeps lined the pavement courtesy of the New York Military Vehicle Club. Two firetrucks hoisted the American flag high above everyone’s head at the main entrance into the Village Green. Red roses and poppies, symbolizing the blood shed during battle, dotted the crowd. Throughout the ceremony, both during and in-between presentations, residents thanked their nearest veteran for their service.
Tom Daly, a Marine Corps veteran, was moved by the immense show of support. “To see all the youth, Boy Scouts, fire department, and first responders, it’s very moving…It’s like someone cares because we’re kind of forgotten,” said Daly, who discussed the importance of preserving the memory of veterans even as they are dwindling in number as time goes on.
“Veterans Day is important to remember everyone that’s served which now is less than ten percent of the population. Fifty years ago, when me and Jack Filiault [a U.S. Army veteran] went in, we had the draft. We had a lot more people. Now even our veteran organization is diminishing in numbers.”
Boy Scout Troop 109 and 416 joined with Girl Scout Troop 99 and Cub Scout Troop 367 under the direction of Boy Scout Scoutmaster Carlos Caban to stand in salute and showcase their patriotic gratitude. Caban stated that many Scouts express interest in joining military service down the road in life and that “a few boys in the troop are now serving actively.”
Living historian and high school teacher at Roosevelt Union Free School District, Stacy Wasson, spoke at length about the importance of remembering those who fought for our freedoms. Between handing out roses she stated, “Although I am not a veteran myself, I had family members who were. Even though they passed away, I look at all the gentlemen out here and think they could’ve been my grandfather. So, I want to make sure they still feel honored while they are here because Veterans Day is for the ones still here with us…They should be treasured by our culture. They did something selfless. They served our country.”
Musing on memories of Veteran’s Day and making the decision to volunteer at the Museum of American Armor, Wasson concludes, “People who were there—those who represent a living memory of war—begin to disappear. I grew up with my grandfather as a World War II veteran. I could never imagine a time when I wasn’t surrounded by them. I miss my grandfather, and today I’m reminded of the massive worldwide change [those service members] went through.”
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