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10/13/12 12:00pm

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | PFC Garfield M. Langhorn’s mother Mary Langhorn (left) at the 8th annual Langhorn Essay Contest assembly with the winners (from left) Stephanie Hayes, Kadarus Gainey, Sarah Anne Fried and Ella Malanga at Pulaski Street Elementary School Friday morning.

The auditorium in Pulaski Street School was silent as sixth-grader Kadarus Gainey approached the podium on the stage Friday morning and began to read his essay about how a local war hero who gave his life to save others in Vietnam inspired him.

“He was probably afraid but he still did his part for his country,” Kadarus said. “Someday, if I have to do that, I hope I will have the courage to do the same thing he did.”

This year, 262 sixth-graders — nearly three quarters of the whole class — wrote essays for the eighth annual PFC Garfield M. Langhorn essay contest. It was the most entries in the contest’s history, school officials said.

“Every year its grown,” said Mary Anne Harroun, a retired Riverhead teacher who helped start the contest. “I’m just so touched that it’s become a part of the Riverhead landscape. Each year the teachers look forward to it, each year the students look forward to it.”

The contest was formed to honor Pfc. Langhorn, a local war hero who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor after he jumped onto an enemy grenade to protect his fellow wounded soldiers in 1969.

Pfc. Langhorn, who attended Pulaski Street School when it was used as the town’s high school decades ago, has been honored with a library in the school and the town’s post office was named in his honor in 2010.

The contest asked students to describe how they are inspired by Pfc. Langhorn’s sacrifice. Principal David Densieski said the contest helps remind students of a part of their town’s heritage.

“I think especially in this day and age, it’s just so important that kids understand he was a hero here … amongst them,” he said.

Mary Langhorn, Pfc. Langhorn’s mother, attended the assembly and told each of the four winners that they did a “job well done.” She was given flowers and a copy of each of the winning essays as the crowd of teachers and students stood to applaud and cheer.

Ms. Harroud said the student’s essays show that the student’s have “heard the message” and have “walked a walk with Garfield.”

“Most kids my age don’t realize that the smallest things can make the biggest difference,” wrote Ella Malanga in her winning essay, “Donating your things to less fortunate, making money for causes, helping a neighbor clean up are all things I am a part of that don’t require a lot, other than a heart!”

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BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Mary Anne Harroun (left) and Mary Langhorn.

06/23/11 5:32am
06/23/2011 5:32 AM

TIM GANNON PHOTO | The Town Bord members discussed dedicating Maple Avenue to the memory of Garfield Langhorn who grew up on the street.

Riverhead Town Board members are hoping to name Maple Avenue in downtown Riverhead in honor of Garfield Langhorn, the Congressional Medal of Honor winner from Riverhead who gave his life to save other soldiers during the Vietnam War.

“He grew up in Riverhead on Maple Avenue, and I’d like to dedicate that street in his honor,” Councilman John Dunleavy said at last Thursday’s Town Board work session, where he made the suggestion.

“Absolutely,” said Councilwoman Jodi Giglio.

“It’s amazing we hadn’t done that earlier,” Supervisor Sean Walter said. “I don’t think there’s any argument.”

Garfield Langhorn remains the only Congressional Medal of Honor recipient from Riverhead. On Jan. 15, 1969, Pfc. Langhorn, who was 29 at the time, threw himself on a live grenade in Vietnam, absorbing the blast himself and, in the process, saving the lives of several other soldiers.

For his actions, he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor posthumously on April 7, 1970.

His mother, Mary Langhorn of Riverhead, said she has no objection to the proposal.

“I appreciate everything anybody has done to keep his memory alive,” she said Tuesday.

The Riverhead post office was renamed in Garfield Langhorn’s honor last year, and students at Pulaski Street Elementary School have been holding an annual Garfield Langhorn essay contest for the past six years.

Ms. Langhorn said she first heard of the Maple Avenue proposal from Kevin Murphy of Jamesport, who is a Patriot Guard motorcycle rider and who participates in the annual Run for the Wall bike ride across the country to recognize the contributions of veterans.

Mr. Murphy told The News-Review that he suggested naming Maple Avenue for Garfield Langhorn to town officials a few weeks ago. He said he got the idea on the Run for the Wall, during a stop at the Vietnam Memorial in Angel Fire, NM, where there is a monument for Garfield Langhorn. Mr. Murphy said several other veterans locally who died in action have had roads or bridges named in their honor, and he felt the same should be afforded to Mr. Langhorn.

The Maple Avenue plan is calls for two street signs, so that Maple Avenue will also still be known by that name and residents won’t have to change their addresses. But a sign honoring Garfield Langhorn will be added to the sign post, Mr. Dunleavy said.
“It will be like they did with Reeves Park,” he said, referring to Park Road in that neighborhood, which was dedicated in honor of Thomas Kelly, a New York City firefighter from Reeves Park who died on 9/11 at the World Trade Center.

That street still has the Park Road sign, but also has a Thomas Kelly Memorial Drive sign under it.

With no apparent opposition to renaming Maple Avenue for Garfield Langhorn, Town Board members said they are now researching what steps need to be taken to make the move official.

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