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Paying tribute to all those who served at annual Veterans Day ceremony in Riverhead

In his remarks during Thursday’s annual Veterans Day ceremony, Thomas Najdzion, Commander of VFW Riverhead Post 2476, asked those in attendance to look at the flag closely for a moment.

“The flag of the United States reflects what we are and what we hope to be,” he said.

The white stripe, he said, symbolizes “purity of purpose and our freedom of thought, expression and worship.” The red stripe represents courage, and a willingness to sacrifice one’s life to preserve American ideals. And the blue represents tranquility “upon which the stars of our states are united to hold intact all that is truly ours. The desire for peace, prosperity and happiness throughout our nation.”

American flags surrounded the World War I monument, where local veterans, town officials and residents gathered to pay tribute to all those who served.

Mr. Najdzion spoke during the remembrance, held by the Riverhead Combined Veterans Committee, about how the men and women of the armed forces “responded without hesitancy to the call of duty.”

“Those men and women are worthy of far greater recognition than mere words or markers,” he said. “The sacrifices they made, the deeds they performed shall be written in history and shall remain alive in our memories for generations to come.”

In November 1919, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Nov. 11 would be observed as Armistice Day, which was first designated as a national holiday by Congress in 1938 and became known as Veterans Day in 1954.

Town officials thanked Mr. Najfzion, the VFW and veterans committee for their efforts to put together Thursday’s ceremony. Councilman Frank Beyrodt said it’s due to the sacrifice and courage of veterans across the nation that we can live freely and pursue happiness together.

“Everyone be proud to be American today,” he said.

Councilwoman Catherine Kent encouraged people to continue to support veterans once the remembrances of the day are over.

“I know today I’m surrounded by those of you who work tirelessly to watch over our veterans,” she said. “I thank you for what you have done and continue to do. Let us remember and honor all our veterans for what they have done.”