Services at Long Island National Cemetery

Pat O’Brien (President) and Elizabeth Parrella (Vice President and Treasurer) of Unit 304 participated in the Memorial Day Services at the Long Island National Cemetery in Farmingdale.  The service is always a beautiful and emotional event but this year was made even more special when the Thunderbirds from the US Air Force flew over the cemetery.

Left to Right: Sonja Neal, Nassau County American Legion Auxiliary President; Pat O’Brien; Rosanne Spinner, Nassau County American Legion Auxiliary Sergeant-at-Arms; Karen Schenck, Unit 336 President and Color Guard, Nona Samuels, Nassau County American Legion Auxiliary Secretary and Color Guard; Mary Hansen-Sterger, Past County President and Color Guard; Elizabeth Parrella; Joyce Booth, Nassau County American Legion Auxiliary Color Guard

 

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Memorial Day Service at St. Mary’s Church

A Memorial Service is held on a rotating basis in a Church in Manhasset each year on the Sunday before Memorial Day.  Members of the American Legion and American Legion Auxiliary participated together with members of the Church of St. Mary in this joint remembrance.  A gathering followed the service in one of the Church’s rooms and refreshments were served.

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County President’s Dinner

On the evening of May 25,  four members of Unit 304 attended the annual Dinner honoring the Nassau County American Legion Auxiliary President.  The dinner also recognizes the work accomplished by Units within the County during the year.  Unit 304 received numerous certificates for their work with Veterans and their families in particular.

Flo Buzzitta, Pat O’Brien. Florence Parrella and Elizabeth Parrella enjoyed the evening.

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St. Patrick’s Day Dinner

Everyone who attended the St. Patrick’s Day Dinner sponsored by Unit 304 on March 18th had a wonderful time and enjoyed the corned beef and cabbage which was supplemented by chicken parmigiana, a little addition for those celebrating St. Joseph’s Day.  Good food, good music and great company brightened an evening that had been threatened by freezing rain and snow.  Thanks to Elizabeth and Florence Parrella for all their preparations and to Donald O’Brien for serving as a chauffeur for those who preferred not to face the storm threats from behind the wheel of their car.  Thanks also to Billy Gaus who served as the evening’s roving photographer.

LegionHall1       LegionHall2 Dinner is Served!

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Table25 Table15

Tables4&5 Table35 BillyMom  BillyMom&Friends

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Wreaths Across America

Snow, freezing rain, and then wind and rain greeted those attending Wreaths Across America on December 17.  Those gathered at the Long Island National Cemetery in Farmingdale were the largest in number since the tradition began.  It was almost as if each person there committed to attending for fear that others might not.  Representatives of Manhasset’s American Legion Auxiliary, American Legion and Boy Scout Troop 97 were among those present.

At noon Volunteer Location Coordinator, Harry Rathsam, approached the podium as he has done for years.  The wind and rain stopped, the umbrellas closed, and the ceremony began.  Harry explained the reasons for Wreaths Across America: to REMEMBER our fallen U.S. veterans, to HONOR those who serve and to TEACH children the value of freedom.

Remembering and honoring were both accomplished that day when many presented the names of family members and friends who are now serving or who had served or given their lives for our great nation.  Pat O’Brien, President of Manhasset’s American Legion Auxiliary, remembered 1st LT Michael LiCalzi and his three fellow Marines who lost their lives together in Iraq in 2006.  The American Legion Auxiliary recently learned about Mike from his twin brother and Dad, both of whom are named Greg.  They founded “Ace in the Hole Foundation” to keep Mike’s memory alive and to offer assistance to veterans and others in need.  The Foundation made a very generous donation to the American Legion Auxiliary’s project which provided Christmas and holiday gifts to the veterans at the Northport VA Medical Center.

John D’Angelo and Selva Venkatesan, who attended with their children in Troop 97, took seriously the mandate to teach the value of freedom.  Adults and children alike were touched by the words quoted from President Ronald Reagan: “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.  We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream.  It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”

Some of the parents were Gold Star mothers and fathers, parents who lost their children to war.  It is always sad to speak to them privately, sometimes at the gravesite of their child.  But they share a common thread.  Their interest lies in telling the story of their child’s life, rather than their death.  The hugs given and received at such times carry the parent and the listener through what is always a difficult but beautiful day.

Hundreds of wreaths were available for placement.  Members of Troop 97 and the American Legion and American Legion Auxiliary placed them on the graves of our nation’s heroes with reverence and respect.  Tasked with saying the name aloud to ensure remembrance, each did so and then returned home to research that hero to discover his or her mark on the preservation of freedom.

To learn more about the program and how you can participate in 2017 visit www.wreathsacrossamerica.org or contact Pat O’Brien at patobrien17@msn.com.

Boy Scouts from Troop 97, John D'Angelo (Assistant Scoutmaster, Troop 97), Pat O'Brien (President, Manhasset American Legion Auxiliary), Donald O'Brien (Legionnaire, Manhasset American Legion), Selva Venkatesan, (Service Coordinator, Troop 97 )

Boy Scouts from Troop 97, John D’Angelo (Assistant Scoutmaster, Troop 97), Pat O’Brien (President, Manhasset American Legion Auxiliary), Donald O’Brien (Legionnaire, Manhasset American Legion), Selva Venkatesan, (Service Coordinator, Troop 97 )

A roving photographer captured Andrea Manfredonia, C&Y Chairperson of Unit 336, along with Pat and Donald O’Brien, as they prepared to lay their wreaths.

A roving photographer captured Andrea Manfredonia, C&Y Chairperson of Unit 336, along with Pat and Donald O’Brien, as they prepared to lay their wreaths.

The same photographer snapped Pat O’Brien as she searched for USMC 1st Lt Michael LiCalzi’s grave site.

The same photographer snapped Pat O’Brien as she searched for USMC 1st Lt Michael LiCalzi’s grave site.

Grave site of the twin brother of a Manhasset resident. Mike LiCalzi lost his life in Iraq.

Grave site of the twin brother of a Manhasset resident. Mike LiCalzi lost his life in Iraq.

God bless each of our American heroes...and God bless the United States of America

God bless each of our American heroes…and God bless the United States of America

 

 

 

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Thank You for Making the Veterans’ Holidays Brighter

December 3rd was a day to grant wishes, the wishes of veterans who have bravely served our country and are now residing or receiving treatment at the Northport VA Medical Center.  The Manhasset American Legion Auxiliary asked for assistance to make it a joyous holiday for our veterans and the help came in abundance.

Boy Scouts from Troop 97 and Pack 101 and Girl Scouts from Troops 527, 545, and 556 sat in the cold outside of Raindew which willingly supported the effort to provide our veterans with a memorable holiday season.  Manager John Hults said, “We can never forget them and we’re proud to support our local veterans.”  The Scouts made signs requesting monetary donations that would be used to purchase items on the “Veterans’ Wish List” and greeted each customer as they informed them of the project.

While that was happening, other Scouts, students, and American Legion Auxiliary and community members were in the American Legion Hall writing Christmas cards and making paper doily angels to adorn the packages.  Donations of toiletries, new clothing and Christmas ornaments arrived so volunteers began the long process of categorizing articles and putting clothing in size order.  Care to Knit donated a dozen handmade lap robes.  Local dentists, Dr. Harvey Passes and Dr. Steven Kornhaber, donated hundreds of toothbrushes, boxes of toothpaste, Polident and various dental hygiene products.  Our young volunteers made individual packages of these and the toiletries.

Everyone was introduced to an organization that was familiar to some but is now known to many more, Ace in the Hole Foundation.  Just before Thanksgiving, American Legion Auxiliary President, Pat O’Brien, received a call from Greg LiCalzi, Jr., President of Ace in the Hole Foundation, inquiring about the mission of the American Legion and American Legion Auxiliary.  After a lengthy discussion, both realized that their organizations had many common goals.  Greg and his Dad, also Greg, founded the Ace in the Hole Foundation following the death of Greg’s twin brother, Mike.  1st LT Michael LiCalzi USMC lost his life in May 2006 while serving our country in Operation Iraqi Freedom.  Mike was a member of the 2d Tank Battalion, 2d Marine Division.  The Battalion’s slogan is “Ace in the Hole.”  Greg and his Dad decided to turn their grief into a tribute to Mike’s bravery and sacrifice and to assist others through their charitable organization, Ace in the Hole Foundation.  On “Giving Tuesday,” just prior to the collection on December 3rd, Greg, Jr. sent a message to the Foundation’s followers asking for donations.  The response was tremendous and Greg took the donations, shopped, and provided more than $900 of items on the “Wish List” for the veterans.  They also visited the Scouts at Raindew and gave them each a medal to remember Mike and to thank them for the work they were doing that day.  They did the same for everyone working at the Legion Hall.  Our youth experienced firsthand, up close and personally, the message that we have all been trying to teach, “Freedom is not free.”

As the day continued, the generosity of the Manhasset community increased.  The donations were immediately turned into items on the “Wish List.”  The staff at Raindew showed amazing patience as they helped search for the veterans’ requests and as items worth many hundreds of dollars were paid for with dollar bills and change!  The elves were busily wrapping at the Legion Hall and it became apparent that additional days were needed both to finish shopping and to complete the wrapping.  Manhasset’s youth and American Legion Auxiliary members remained undaunted and willingly agreed to come back on two other occasions to complete the task.

When finished, 193 individual gift bags had been prepared for our veterans.  There were many boxes of toiletries and decorations remaining which were also donated.  The gifts were valued at more than $5,000.  Three SUVs were filled on December 19th with only enough remaining room in each for the driver.  When the little caravan reached the Northport VA Medical Center, the volunteers were greeted with hugs and looks of total amazement.  There were actually tears in the eyes of the staff accepting the donations.  It was extremely heartwarming that they were tears of joy in a location where tears are too often shed in sorrow.  Santa and his helpers arrived the next day to distribute to the veterans these and all the other generous donations that had been received from all over Long Island.

Thank you to each of you who contributed to such a huge outpouring of support for our men and women who have served our great country with no thought of self.  May you be blessed a hundredfold as we begin a new year.

Members and friends write cards for our Veterans

Members and friends write cards for our Veterans

More members writing cards

More members writing cards

Angel makers

Angel makers

An Angel for every gift bag

An Angel for every gift bag

Greg LiCalzi and Greg LiCalzi, Jr., founders of Ace in the Hole, dropped off many donations that were courtesy of their followers

Greg LiCalzi and Greg LiCalzi, Jr., founders of Ace in the Hole, dropped off many donations that were courtesy of their followers

Thanks again

Thanks again

There are so many thank yous to be given to all

There are so many thank yous to be given to all

Greg and Greg, Jr. presented Ace in the Hole medals to all who assisted

Greg and Greg, Jr. presented Ace in the Hole medals to all who assisted

Thanks to our Boy Scouts

Thanks to our Boy Scouts

Our Boy Scouts, Girls Scouts and Junior Auxiliary members sought contributions all day from Raindew customers

Our Boy Scouts, Girls Scouts and Junior Auxiliary members sought contributions all day from Raindew customers

Thank you for sitting in the cold to make our Veterans feel the warmth of kindness

Thank you for sitting in the cold to make our Veterans feel the warmth of kindness

Thank you for your donations

Thank you for your donations

Thank you!

Thank you!

Thanks to the generosity of our Community and the management of Raindew, we filled many carts for our Veterans

Thanks to the generosity of our Community and the management of Raindew, we filled many carts for our Veterans

More carts are filled

More carts are filled

Each gift was wrapped with care

Each gift was wrapped with care

Wrappers busily at work

Wrappers busily at work

A view of what was accomplished

A view of what was accomplished

More gifts

More gifts

And still more gifts!

And still more gifts!

Time to transport everything

Time to transport everything

The halls of the Northport VA Voluntary Services Department were filled with the donations for our Veterans

The halls of the Northport VA Voluntary Services Department were filled with the donations for our Veterans

Santa and his helpers had much to do when our gifts were delivered

Santa and his helpers had much to do when our gifts were delivered

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Holiday Luncheon

Manhasset Unit 304 held its annual holiday luncheon at the Jolly Fisherman on December  9.  In addition to enjoying the delicious food and splendid company, the Unit continued what has also become an annual tradition.  Corresponding Secretary Anne Hedberg shopped for and packaged children’s gloves/mittens, hats and scarfs.  Members purchased the gift packages, prepared cards for each and the gifts were then delivered to the Northport VA Medical Center for the children of our active military and returning veterans.  Thanks to everyone for another great year!

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Members Assist at the Gift Shop for Veterans

Front - second from the right: Elizabeth Parrella at the Gift Shop with other members of the Nassau County American Legion Auxiliary

Front – second from the right: Elizabeth Parrella at the Gift Shop with other members of the Nassau County American Legion Auxiliary

The Nassau County Committee of the American Legion Auxiliary sponsors an annual Gift Shop for veterans at the Northport VA Medical Center.  The veterans are offered items from which to select holiday gifts for family members.  This year they also received gifts for themselves.  The Gift Shop took place during the last week of November.  Vice President and Treasurer, Elizabeth Parrella attended the Gift Shop.   She helped to set up the room, sort items, fold clothing and cut wrapping paper in preparation for the selection/distribution of gifts for the veterans.  In addition, she donated Christmas cards that were used by the veterans for their family.  Thank you, Elizabeth, for spreading holiday cheer to those who have given so much for our great nation!

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Members Assist at Veterans’ Stand Down

Elizabeth Parrella and Carol-Anne Condon spent Tuesday, November 22nd, at the Freeport Armory assisting our struggling and homeless veterans.  Manhasset Unit 304 purchased new clothing items for the veterans and Elizabeth and Carol-Anne helped our veterans choose from a large selection of donated items for the winter.  The veterans also received information from the VA Medical Center, the Nassau County Veterans Service Agency and various other organizations providing information, assistance and, hopefully, opportunities for future employment.  The veterans enjoyed a Thanksgiving feast prior to departing.

Thanks, Elizabeth and Carol-Anne for giving so freely of your time!

 

Carol-Anne Condon and Vice President and Treasurer, Elizabeth Parrella

Carol-Anne Condon and Vice President and Treasurer, Elizabeth Parrella

Past Nassau County American Legion Auxiliary President Mary Hansen-Sterger with Elizabeth Parrella

Past Nassau County American Legion Auxiliary President Mary Hansen-Sterger with Elizabeth Parrella

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Junior American Legion Auxiliary Member, Lauren Moschitta, Speaks at Meeting

On Wednesday, November 16, Junior American Legion Auxiliary member, Lauren Moschitta, served as Guest Speaker at the Manhasset Unit 304 meeting.  Her topic was the work being performed by Sister Rita Giaretta, a Catholic Ursuline Sister, who supports young women escaping from impoverished areas within Africa and the Middle East in search of a better life, only to become the victims of abusive human sex trafficking.

After reading about Sister Rita in a Sunday New York Times article, Lauren performed months of research and communicated back and forth via email and post with Sister Rita in her safe house in Caserta, Italy. Arrangements were made for Lauren to visit Casa Rut, the safe house, and she did so in August.

The week-long visit allowed Lauren to enter their home and their lives.  She viewed firsthand the struggles the young women face and the hope that has been given to them by Sister Rita.  Sister Rita provides for their bodily needs but also educates their minds and helps them to escape the abuse through productive work that allows them to establish themselves economically.

Lauren spoke of the struggles Sister Rita has faced in assisting the women, including her battles with the mafia.  Sister Rita’s work has been blessed by Pope Francis who is a major advocate for the poor and abused.

Sister Rita has a website (http://www.coop-newhope.it/) that is accessible in the United States and that promotes the products produced by the young women she is helping. You may need a translator for the words but the products are self explanatory!

Lauren returned home, spent time as an intern in a court house and resolved to become an attorney whose primary work is advocating for abused women and children.  With a little push, we may be able to have Lauren take her presentation “on the road” in Manhasset to increase the level of understanding within our community of  a very serious issue and to remind ourselves how important it is to protect our youth.

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