Veterans honored at the War Memorial in downtown Riverhead

11/11/2013 1:43 PM |
American Legion commander Mike Pankowski and Ladies Auxillary vice president Darlene Folkes place the wreaths at the War Memorial Monday morning.

BARBARELLEN KOCH PHOTO | American Legion commander Mike Pankowski and Ladies Auxillary vice president Darlene Folkes place the wreaths at the War Memorial ceremonies Monday morning.

The town’s Veterans Day ceremony was held Monday at 11 a.m. at the War Memorial on the grounds of the Suffolk County Historical Society.

The memorial was first erected in front of the former historical society building at the northwest corner of Main Street and Griffing Avenue and dedicated by Col. Theodore Roosevelt of Oyster Bay in 1920. (Son of Teddy Roosevelt.) Several thousand people attended the 1920 event.

The memorial, made of a granite block, features a bronze plaque that lists the names of 306 men from the Town of Riverhead who served in World War I.

The memorial was moved in 1926 to the current historical society building from its previous location on Griffing Avenue.

Councilman John Dunleavy was the keynote speaker for Mondays ceremony.

Below is a transcript of his speech:

Reverend Clergy, gold star parents and loved ones, honored guests, ladies and gentlemen and my fellow veterans of our country,

Today marks the 94th year that we Americans gather together to commemorate and celebrate – all heroes – past and present, who have worn the uniform of our great country. For it was in 1919, exactly 94 years ago that President Woodrow Wilson, the Senate and Congress set aside this date as a thankful nation pays honored homage to all veterans of all branches of our military … the Army, Marines, Air Force, Coast Guard and my branch – the U.S. Navy.

This day was not set aside as a “Bargain Day” for shopping centers …. but was set aside for keeping our part of the “Bargain” …. Offering humble salute and thanks to all those who served – whether serving in war or serving in peace.

While each American has the hard earned freedom to commemorate and celebrate Veterans Day each in their own way …. we must never, ever forget the soldiers, airmen, marines and sailors who make that freedom possible. It is our duty, our mission to honor our veterans, who honored us with their service – their sacrifice.

I join with you in thanking the good Lord everyday that since 1776, young men and women have always stepped forward in service to our country. From the War of Independence through World Wars I and II, Korea, Vietnam and in the troubled war torn Middle East, America is blessed with the very best.

In drafting and preparing my remarks for today, Veterans Day, I was continually drawn to the words of Lincoln …. next Tuesday, November 19th, just 8 days from today, will mark the 150th Anniversary of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. Lincoln’s words from that cold, cloudy day exactly 150 years ago reach out and touch us today …. permit me to paraphrase Lincoln at Gettysburg by saying …. ‘It is for us the living to be dedicated here to the unfinished work of all veterans’.

In closing, I offer this …. if the great George Washington did not fear to kneel in the snow at Valley Forge to pray for his troops and the future of America …. we must then not fear to kneel in the comfort of today and humbly ask again that …. God Bless America and may God Bless all who have worn the uniform.

Thank you.

John Dunleavy