EW honors vets in village ceremony

Andrew Benjamin

On a sunny Sunday morning, local residents gathered at the War Memorial memorial on the East Williston Village Green to pay tribute to veterans living and dead, past and present.

Veterans from the Williston Park VFW Post 1688 were on hand to place the ceremonial wreath and salute their fellow servicemen. They were joined by Village of East Williston Mayor David Tanner and Cub Scouts from the Northside School.

Those gathered for the ceremonies sang “God Bless America,” and “The Star Spangled Banner.”  The Post’s chaplain delivered a closing prayer and the observance finished with the requisite musical piece “Taps” played on a bugle.

Tanner spoke briefly at the tribute, contrasting the hardships residents had to go through recently with the hurricane with what servicemen had to face.

“With all the challenges that we’ve had as a result of the storm, just imagine the challenges the veterans had as they fought and some died,” he said. 

Tanner urged the audience to shake the hand of any veteran they encounter.

Bill Vesely, a 3rd class engineman who served in the U.S. Navy in Vietnam and the Post commander, was pleased that the Cub Scouts came out to help with the ceremony. 

“It just shows me that people still pay a little tribute to those who served in previous wars,” he told the audience.

Roslyn Heights residents Len Hirsch, who attended  the ceremony with his wife Diane and their 7-year-old son Tobey, a Cub Scout, said he hoped his son learned something about the important sacrifice of those who serve.

“I hope they recognize there are people that are a doing a lot for our country,” Hirsch said. “By coming out, he can see the older folks who served their country.”

When asked what lessons he learned, Tobey said “To remember who died and to show respect.”

Hirsch said he was struck by the mayor’s comparison of the recent deadly storms and what veterans have had to go through.

“That was particularly nice for the kids because the kids are young enough to experience that and see that anything can happen. Hopefully there are positive lessons that can be learned from that.” he said. “Hopefully people can appreciate those who serve and will serve.”

Korean War veteran Charlie Boyd, the Nassau County VFW commander, said he was pleased with “the nice turnout,” but added that he hopes the kids ask questions.

“I hope they learn something about Americanism and the service,” he said “I hope they go home and ask questions. What was the war about? Who started the war?”

Vesely concurred with Boyd. “If kids ask questions, it broadens their knowledge.”

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Andrew Benjamin

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