On Wednesday, September 20, Manhasset American Legion Auxiliary Unit 304 held its monthly meeting. It began with a tribute to two very long-standing members who passed away recently, Kahdi Miller and June Mackey. Kahdi was a member for 21 years and June for 50 years. As is the custom, the Charter of the Unit was draped in black to signify the deep loss of two vital members and a small service was held to recognize their work and pray for their eternal peace.
The meeting featured presentations by three students from our Manhasset high schools who were sponsored for the Auxiliary’s Empire Girls State program by Manhasset Unit 304. The girls attended this program in the early summer, at the conclusion of their junior year of high school. Katie Barnes and Jacqueline Siffer of Manhasset High School and Isabel Vasquez of St. Mary’s High School each spoke of what they considered to be a life-changing experience. All of them spoke highly of this program, which through both lectures and hands-on workshops teaches girls about our two-party system, the legislative process, civic responsibility, respect for the flag and patriotism.
The three citizens of this fictitious 51st state, who coincidentally were all assigned to the “Federalist” party, ran for various offices, which required speaking before increasingly larger audiences. They mentioned the level of self-confidence this helped them achieve and the desire they now have to participate positively in government at different levels. Katie Barnes served on the Criminal Justice Committee and was elected County Judge for her county. She helped to draft an immigration bill, and she also learned about the judicial process. Jacqueline Siffer served on the Platform Committee, which established the party’s platform and areas of focus, and was elected to the State Senate. She also was selected to be her county’s candidate for Governor. She relinquished that opportunity when she was chosen to be Majority Speaker of the State Senate. Isabel Vasquez served on the Platform Committee and ran for Attorney General.
The three students mentioned that Empire Girls State was a very collaborative environment, in which they helped their roommates and others on their campaigns, even if they were from a different political “party.” They met girls from all over New York – from the Thousand Islands to Brooklyn – and have kept in touch with them through social media. The students also noted how much they enjoyed and benefited from guest speakers at the program, including some of our female representatives in the New York state legislature and Congress, as well as female veterans. All three Manhasset students greatly appreciated the opportunity to participate in this unique program and plan to share what they learned with classmates during their senior year of high school.
At the conclusion of their presentations, Unit President Patricia O’Brien commended them and also urged them to continue learning about our nation and its issues, to educate themselves before they mark their future ballots and to vote at every opportunity, regardless of how small the election.
The Father William A. Daly Columbiettes of the Church of St. Mary also attended. Many residents will recall that the Columbiettes created beautiful patriotic bracelets that they sold throughout the community. At the meeting Alma Garcia, President of the Columbiettes, presented a check for $750 to Unit 304. This donation represents the proceeds from the bracelets and will be used by the American Legion Auxiliary to assist Veterans in need. Many hours of devoted work were dedicated to the creation and sale of the large number of bracelets that resulted in such a charitable gift. Members of Unit 304 were filled with surprise, joy, and gratitude. Veterans on Long Island will be the recipients of this generosity.
The meeting ended with a celebration of everyone’s Birthday. The cake was cut by two special celebrants, Mary Keogh, who celebrated her 90th Birthday that same day, and Florence Parrella, whose 93rd Birthday followed on Saturday. Congratulations to all!
President Pat O’Brien, Isabel Vasquez of St. Mary’s High School, Vice President and Treasurer Elizabeth Parrella, Jacqueline Siffer and Katie Barnes of Manhasset High School.
Alma Garcia, President of the St. Mary’s Columbiettes, and some additional members present a check to Pat O’Brien and Elizabeth Parrella for veteran projects.
Mary Keogh (background) and Florence Parrella (foreground) cut the cake in celebration of all member Birthdays.