An enjoyable evening was had by all on October 7th when we celebrated our annual Oktoberfest.
An enjoyable evening was had by all on October 7th when we celebrated our annual Oktoberfest.
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.
We thank all who helped to make this year’s Poppy Drive a success. All proceeds from poppy donations are used to assist our veterans and our active military.
Vice President and Treasurer, Elizabeth Parrella, distributing poppies before the Memorial Day Parade
Chaplain, Florence Parrella, could be seen throughout Manhasset distributing poppies.
The Memorial Day Parade which is sponsored by the American Legion annually in Manhasset took place as scheduled. Following the Parade, a memorial service was held, wreaths were placed at monuments, the names of those veterans who have died during the year were read, and awards were given to high school students. A celebration followed at the American Legion Hall for all American Legion and Auxiliary members and their families, for our active service personnel and for community members.
Junior Auxiliary member Lauren Moschitta served as our Poppy Queen in this year’s Memorial Day Parade
Left to Right: Americanism Award winners Olivia Tatarian (MHS) and Ciara Warner (St. Mary’s); Poppy Queen Lauren Moschitta (Junior Auxiliary member); President Pat O’Brien; Empire Girls State citizens Isabel Vasquez (St. Mary’s) and Katie Barnes and Jacqueline Siffer (MHS); Vice President and Treasurer Elizabeth Parrella
Left to Right: President Pat O’Brien, School Award winner Dylan Desir, Ciara Warner,Americanism Award winner, both of St. Mary’s High School, Vice President and Treasurer Elizabeth Parrella
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
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.
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.
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.
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 email@example.com.
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.