Port Washington veterans gathered on stage at the John Philip Sousa Memorial Band Shell in Sunset Park on Nov. 11, to celebrate Veterans Day and the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Armistice to end World War I.
Commander of Henderson-Marino Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 1819 John Baptisto Fiore started off the ceremony by welcoming the community and reciting “They Did Their Share” by Joanna Fuchs.
“‘On Veterans Day we honor soldiers who protect our nation,” read Baptisto Fiore. “‘For their service as our warriors, they deserve our admiration. Let every veteran be honored; don’t let politics get in the way. Without them, freedom would have died. What they did, we can’t repay. We owe so much to them, who kept us safe from terror, so when we see a uniform, let’s say thank you to every wearer.’”
Baptisto Fiore thanked the veterans from the local groups—including Port Washington American Legion Post 509, Henderson-Marino VFW Post 1819 and Port Washington Detachment 614, Marine Corps League—along with a group of Schreiber High School students who are part of the American Heroes Club. He recounted how the students stood side by side with him in the pouring rain to place American flags on Memorial Day on the gravestones of veterans who died.
“As commander of the VFW now, my focus is always on veterans because I feel they are the most intricate part of this country, the moral fabric we stitch together,” said Baptisto Fiore. “That red, white and blue is from us guys and girls, but to be honest we all know that it is the American youth I adore. I want to share something from Schreiber High School called the American Heroes Club. These kids have marked my heart without doubt. I know where we get our compassion from for the troops that we serve, the country we love and the job that we did. But where do they get it from? This is what amazes me. I am in awe of their presence.”
Previous VFW Post 1819 commander John Chalker called upon each veteran to stand when he called out the war they fought in and then recited the poem “In Flanders Fields” written by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae.
Member of the American Legion Post 509 James Ansel gave the Veterans Day Address, thanking veterans and their families.
“The 11th month of the 11th day of the 11th hour marked the end of World War I,” said Ansel. “Today, from 1918, is the 100th anniversary for that event. The idea of a world without war is appealing, yet wars have kept us free, stopped genocide and removed tyrants.”
Ansel recited a quote from Emily Dickinson that stated, “Hope is a thing without feathers that perches in the soul and sings a tune without words and never stops at all,” and said that everyone is filled with hope, but they must be realistic that as long as conflict exists, so must veterans.
“Our servicemen demonstrated valor, endurance and courage by the test of their devotion to duty,” said Ansel. “Veterans have made many sacrifices. They have missed the birth of their children, sweltered in jungles, baked in the desert and have been lost at sea. Some have made the ultimate sacrifice. Today we honor the living veterans. We equally honor their families who have endured uncertainty and difficult after matter of caring for those returned in need of healing. Without veterans we know the America today wouldn’t exist. Veterans have given us freedom. They maintain the security of our nation. Forever, we appreciate them. God bless our veterans and God bless America.”