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Applications sought for ‘living tribute’ to honor Riverhead veterans

Beginning in April, rows of downtown lamp posts will feature images of local veterans as part of a Veterans Banner Program. Each banner — 21 inches by 30 inches — will honor one person, showing their name and branch of service along with a photo.

The Riverhead Business Improvement District announced the upcoming tribute as a partnership with the Town of Riverhead’s Veteran’s Advisory Committee, Councilwoman Jodi Giglio and Wedel Sign Company.

The banners will “honor past and present veterans, active-duty, reserve, and National Guard members,” an announcement said.

“We salute the American veterans and active duty military whose courage and dedication have protected our freedom and our way of life for generations,” said Thomas Najdzion, chairperson of the town’s Veteran’s Committee. “We recognize their service and sacrifice, their selflessness and bravery, their hard work and their faith. We here in the great Town of Riverhead will honor the men and women with our Veterans Banner Program.”

Applications are being accepted both online and a Town Hall. The banners cost $225 for one year of seasonal display. The cost is paid directly to Wedel Signs.

Wedel Signs plans to sponsor banners for two of Riverhead’s most notable veterans: Pfc. Garfield Langhorn and Tech Sgt. Dashan Briggs. Pfc. Langhorn died in Vietnam at the age of 20 and was posthumously earned the Medal of Honor, the most prestigious military decoration. Tech. Sgt. Briggs, who was a member of the Air National Guard’s 106th Rescue Wing, died in Iraq in 2018 in a helicopter crash.

“The Riverhead BID is grateful for the opportunity to participate in the Veteran’s Tribute Banner project,” said Kristy Verity, the BID’s executive director. “The new banners are a demonstration of our community’s respect and gratitude for the service these men and women have provided for our nation.”

The first display is scheduled to begin in April as a run-up to Memorial Day. The banners will hang annually from April-June and then again in September-November in observance of Veterans Day. The application will reopen annually to allow new applicants the opportunity to sponsor a veteran.

Previous year’s banners may be rotated into display, depending on the number of new banners each year, the announcement said.

Veterans Day ceremonies

World War I ended at the 11th hour, of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918. Within a few years, Nov. 11 became known as Armistice Day and that day became a national holiday in America in 1938.

After World War II, Armistice Day became Veterans Day – a day to remember all who served their country and died in our wars. It is a day to honor the courage and dedication of a part of the population who unselfishly went off to battle and those who are buried in American cemeteries here and abroad.

Because of COVID-19, this year’s ceremonies will be smaller and a bit low key, but this important holiday in our country will still be remembered.

In Riverhead, the different veterans’ organizations will host a Veterans Day Ceremony Wednesday at 11 a.m. at the World War I memorial on the grounds of the Suffolk County Historical Society on West Main Street.

“This will be the 100th anniversary of the dedication of the monument by Theodore Roosevelt, son and decorated soldier of past U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt,” according to a press release from Mr. Najdzion, Riverhead’s VFW commander. “All are welcome. We are limiting the amount of participants; all COVID rules are still in effect and the ceremony will take place outdoors.”

In Southold a memorial ceremony will begin at 11 a.m. in front of Griswold-Terry-Glover American Legion Post 803 in Southold. After the ceremony a brunch for veterans will be offered. Veterans and their spouses are invited. The lunch will be limited to 50 people and reservations must be made ahead of time by calling 631-407-5555. All COVID-19 protocols will be in place.