The Riverhead school board has unanimously approved a new property tax exemption for local veterans that will go into effect during the 2015-16 fiscal year.
The Riverhead school board has unanimously approved a new property tax exemption for local veterans that will go into effect during the 2015-16 fiscal year.
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.
When I was a boy and my grandmother was still alive, I can recall how no one in my family was allowed to play “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” around her. Her brother was killed during World War II, my mom would explain, and he had promised in his last letter home after two years overseas that — like Bing Crosby had sung in that hit 1943 tune — he, too, would be home for Christmas.
He was supposed to get leave that December. Decades upon decades later, my grandmother would still break down in tears whenever she heard the song.
That’s all I ever really knew about my great uncle — until I was much older, and a relative uncovered some forgotten paperwork. What I learned was the story of a great American hero, and of love and sacrifice in a time of utter darkness and desperation.
Charles “Chic” Quinn, a Long Island Rail Road machinist from St. Albans, Queens, was 19 years old when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. A week later, he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps.
According to military records, Corporal Charles D. Quinn was 5 feet, 7 3/4 inches tall with blue eyes, brown hair and a ruddy complexion.
During his almost two years overseas, he took part in several military campaigns against the Japanese in the Pacific, including a 1944 reconnaissance mission in Peleliu, in the island nation of Palau.
He completed his last mission but suffered wounds at the hands of the Japanese along the way. Five days later, he died on a Navy hospital ship in the arms of a Catholic chaplain. Cpl. Quinn, a baby brother who in battle wore the Presidential Unit Citation, was later posthumously awarded the Silver Star, the military’s third-highest award for valor in the face of the enemy.
His citation reads: “While carrying out an extremely hazardous reconnaissance mission to obtain vital information, Cpl. Quinn observed a marine officer pinned down by intense enemy rifle and machine-gun fire and imperiled by snipers. Disregarding his own personal safety, he courageously advanced in the face of the hostile fi re and killed the most threatening sniper, thereby saving the officer’s life.
“Although he received wounds during this action which later proved fatal, he steadfastly refused medical attention and completed his reconnaissance, subsequently dispatching a written report to the regimental command post before he was evacuated.”
Yes, Cpl. Quinn never made it home for Christmas. He received a military funeral at sea, according to records. He left behind three sisters; his parents had both already died. Some four months after his death, the priest who held “Chic” as he passed away sent two letters to his surviving family in the U.S. He mailed one letter to my grandmother’s home in St. Albans. The other he sent to my great-aunt Winifred, a Catholic nun then known as Sister Mary Coronata, who lived in Toledo at the time.
Both letters were typed on letterhead from the U.S.S. Samaritan, the ship on which my great-uncle died, but they are devoid of the buttoned-up military speak of the telegrams and citations.
The letter to Toledo, dated Jan. 4, 1945, reads as follows:
My dear Sister Coronata: May our dearest Lord bless you and your work abundantly during this New Year.
I was very pleased to receive your letter concerning our dear little “CHIC.” This is just what he was. During the few days that he was with us I visited him often. He was always so pleased to see a priest. He was such an innocent child and his faith so deeply rooted that I really loved him. When he first came aboard I told him that someone’s good prayers had been heard. I meant that he had not been called on the field, as so many other poor boys. He immediately responded, “Yes Father, my sister, she is a nun.” Having a sister of my own a Dominican, we had something more in common. I could not help but feel for you; for I know how my good sister would feel.
Chic was conscious till the very last moment. He was so attentive to the prayers for the dying; which was the greatest edification to me. When he breathed his last, I actually broke down myself before the doctor and nurse, as I continued to say prayers. Our dearest Lord wanted another little angel for His heavenly choir.
Please continue to pray for me, Sister; and may I ask that you have the children pray for me also. We priests of the service have so much need for prayers than before.
Sincerely in Christ,
Joseph S. McCauley
Not just on Veterans Day but throughout the year, let us all take time to remember our brave men and women in arms — especially those who never made it home for Christmas.
Michael White is the editor of The Suffolk Times and Riverhead News-Review. He can be reached at [email protected] or at (631) 298-3200, Ext. 152. A similar version of this column first appeared in this publication in November 2008.
While large portions of the federal government remain ground to a halt as federal lawmakers stand across the bargaining table from one another, Calverton National Cemetery has been unaffected since the day the so-called “shutdown” began Oct. 1.
But sometime next week, that could change.
If no deal is reached in Washington, D.C., two-thirds of the staff at Calverton National Cemetery, the country’s largest burial ground for veterans, will be furloughed Oct. 22. In that event, the cemetery’s work force would drop from 100 to just over 30, resulting in delayed interments.
While veterans affairs could be considered a nonpartisan issue — especially compared to Obamacare, the issue at the heart of the shutdown — Congressman Tim Bishop (D-Southampton) said last week that he doesn’t see the logic in passing legislation that would before a final deal is made.
“There have been a series of bills Republicans have brought to the floor to reopen a slice of the government,” he said in a conference call Friday with members of the media. “What we say is, ‘Let’s reopen all of the government.’
“Should we allow burials to slow down at Calverton? Of course not. But the answer should be to reopen the entire government. Not pick and choose which parts we want to,” Mr. Bishop said.
The cemetery is funded through the National Cemetery Association, which falls under the purview of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The department is funded in two-year cycles — unlike most departments, which are funded year-by-year — so operations at Calverton, and much of the VA, have so far not been impacted by the impasse to the same degree as the rest of the federal government.
The Calverton cemetery conducts approximately 30 to 40 burials per day on its 1,045 acres, about 800 of which need to be maintained on a regular basis.
Kristen Parker, a spokesperson for the NCA, said that in the event that the shutdown hits national cemeteries, the government would “do whatever it can not to delay a burial. And it would likely be a day or two. Not weeks.”
Funeral homes would be responsible for holding the bodies of deceased veterans while they await their final resting place, according to Parker. In addition, she said, relatives of those who died would still be cared for during any delay in the process.
But many veterans have already had enough. Just after the shutdown hit, a group of vets arrived in Washington to find that they had to remove barricades at the World War II memorial, which had been shut down. And last weekend, Reuters reported that veterans groups took it one step further, removing the barricades and placing them on the lawn of the White House.
“I don’t even know if the government would feel bad [if burials were delayed],” said Frank Bania, who runs Boots on the Ground NY, a veterans group that organizes PTSD support groups, motorcycle cavalcades and other efforts to help veterans.
The former commander of Riverhead VFW Post 2476, Joe Edler, said, “I have a funny feeling this should be settled fast, or else I think they’re going to hurt a lot of veterans.”
If no deal is reached by the end of the month, Mr. Bishop said, the country may not be able to pay out $12 billion in active duty and veterans benefits.
• Riverhead’s annual combined veterans parade begins at the corner of Pulaski Street and Osborn Avenue at 10 a.m. It will proceed down Main Street and return to its starting location for a ceremony at the World War II memorial in front of Pulaski Street School at 11 a.m.
• Calverton National Cemetery , 210 Princeton Blvd. in Calverton, will hold its annual Memorial Day observances at 1 p.m. in the assembly area at the cemetery.
• The official Southold Town Memorial Day parade, hosted this year by the Village of Greenport, will start at 10 a.m. with a ceremony at Veterans Memorial Park at First and Main streets. The parade will then proceed along Main and Front streets and end at the Third Street firehouse.
• Orient Fire Department’s annual Memorial Day parade will start at 7:30 a.m. The parade will step off at the firehouse at 23300 Main Road. The route will run along Tabor Road to Orchard Street, then Navy Street, Village Lane, Main Road and back to the firehouse.
• A Greenport Memorial Day dockside service is scheduled for 8 a.m. Attendees and organizers are asked to meet in the Adams Street parking lot behind the Arcade at 7:45 a.m. Marchers will then head to the dock by the railroad station. Refreshments will follow at the Third Street firehouse.
• Mattituck Fire Department will conduct a wreath-laying ceremony at the war memorial at Pike Street and Wickham Avenue at 8 a.m. That event will be followed by a parade through the Love Lane business area, ending at the firehouse.
Edward Mickaliger has been keeping active all his life. It’s the eve of his 100th birthday and though he’s bound to a wheelchair, he has barely lost a step.
Mr. Mickaliger — he goes by Eddie — is a Riverheader, born and raised. He was born in a farmhouse on Doctor’s Path on April 15, 1913 and grew up in a house near Merritts Pond, between Ostrander and Roanoke avenues, with his father, mother, six brothers and a sister.
The siblings would work in the daytime cutting grass and helping on the farm; at night he and his brothers would sneak out and go fishing in the pond, he said. In the winter, the pond would freeze over.
“We’d pull the ice skates out and have some fun,” he said.
The second-oldest of his siblings, Mr. Mickaliger served as a sergeant in the 29th Infantry of the U.S. Army during World War II, he said. Three of his brothers also served in the military.
He breezes over his time in the service in conversation, casually saying he was injured by shrapnel before moving on to other matters. It’s a long life, after all, and he wants get through to all of it.
After getting home from the war, he joined the Riverhead Fire Department as a firefighter on the Reliable hose and engine company No. 1 with his father and siblings. He worked first for a grocery store, then at the Carl and Bob’s clothing store in downtown Riverhead.
He tells his family that he “went from selling fruit to Fruit of the Loom.” In his free time, he joined the East End Surf Club and loved fishing with his siblings.
Mr. Mickaliger married once, but never had children.
He still keeps busy. His stay in the nursing home is a new — and temporary — measure, he says. Mr. Mickaliger was outside this winter helping a neighbor by shoveling their driveway when he got frostbite, family members said.
He’s been at the nursing home ever since, slowly recovering.
Dozens of family members turned out to wish him happy birthday Sunday afternoon at the nursing home. They laid out a cake on the table, and handed out cookies.
Amidst the celebrations they asked him what he’d like to drink.
“Scotch and water,” he joked.
The Riverhead Veterans of Foreign Wars post broke out the green beer and corned beef as their St. Patrick’s Day celebration lunch was revived for the first time in years Sunday afternoon.
Volunteers with the group and its Ladies’ Auxiliary made corned beef sandwiches, homemade coleslaw and potato salad, and pickles for dozens of visitors ready to celebrate the luck of the Irish. The post also held a 50/50 raffle as part of the fundraising festivities
The VFW post hostef St. Patrick’s Day and other cooking celebrations in the past, but hadn’t done the gatherings after in recent years after the passing of several older members
“We used to do lots and lots and lots,” said Dottie Minnick, vice president of the Ladies Auxiliary, “We’re just trying to revamp, bring people out, bring people back.”
All proceeds from the St. Patrick’s Day event will go toward the club’s veterans relief fund, which helps local veterans in need with medical and other expenses. As of 4 p.m., about 60 people had turned out for the lunch.
The post’s next event will be a roast beef dinner night on April 12 from 6 to 8 p.m.
A pair of new ballfields at the Enterprise Park at Calverton will be named in honor of two highly decorated Wading River soldiers who gave their lives defending their country.
The Riverhead Town Board is planning to name one of the two fields at the new park after U.S. Army Sergeant First Class Anthony Venetz Jr, and the other field after U.S. Army Sergeant Jonathan Keller.
The Town Board in December voted to name the entire park complex being built at EPCAL as “Veterans Memorial Park,” citing the fact that the property was owned by the U.S. Navy for many years and the Grumman Corporation built and tested fighter jets there.
In addition, the individual fields at the park also will be named after individual veterans from the area.
“We have four fields there and we’re going to name them all after veterans,” Councilman George Gabrielsen said.
The long-planned park is expected to finally open in April, he said. It had been delayed for many years by requirements from both the county health department and the state transportation department, officials said.
The Town Board plans to vote on resolutions naming the two fields after SFC Venetz and Sgt. Keller at its meeting Tuesday, and has yet to decide on names for the two other fields.
“That’s so nice,” SFC Venetz’s mother, Marion Venetz, said of the town’s plans. “I’m just honored they decided to do that. What a nice tribute to my son. I think it’s a very nice way to honor the veterans.”
“We are honored that the Riverhead Town Board and the community would recognize and pay tribute to our fallen sons,” said Martin Keller, Sgt. Keller’s father. “We hope everyone enjoys this Memorial Park and its facilities as it brings the community together.”
The first two soldiers being honored by the town grew up on the same block in Wading River, where they were one grade apart in school. Both died of injuries suffered while serving in Afghanistan, and they both died on nearly the same day, two years apart.
Sgt. Keller, a 1998 graduate of Shoreham-Wading River high school, had first served in the U.S. Navy during Operation Iraqi Freedom, and then joined the New York State Army National Guard Reserve’s “Fighting 69th” in 2004.
In late 2007, he was called to serve in Afghanistan and was assigned to the 172nd Airborne in Kabul in early 2008. It was there, while engaged in battle with Taliban forces, that he sustained critical gunshot wounds that led to his death on Jan. 24, 2009.
He received a Purple Heart, an Army Commendation Medal and the Army’s Meritorious Medal.
SFC Venetz is a 1999 graduate of Shoreham-Wading River high school and joined the Army in 2001. He became a special forces engineer sergeant and served twice in Iraq and later in Afghanistan. He died from injuries sustained while on his second tour of duty in Afghanistan on Jan 28, 2011.
He was given two Bronze Star Medals, including one with valor, two Purple Heart awards and four Army Commendation Medals, two of which were for valor.