STATEN ISLAND, NY — Overcast skies set the scene for this year’s Veterans Day commemoration at Ocean View Cemetery. The site has hosted this ceremony since its inception in 1919. The 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month found Staten Islanders and veterans at the base of the memorial honoring those who served.
The event began with the Pledge of Allegiance and an honorable salute accompanied by “The Star-Spangled Banner”. Old Glory flew overhead as the pensive crowd listened to the loudspeakers. After some brief introductions and remarks, Judge Joseph J. Maltese say a few words. Judge Maltese was also a member of the US Army Reserve for over 30 years. He served as an officer in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps and later as a brigadier general in the New York State Civil Affairs Brigade.
“In 1917 we entered the war and we advanced with our ‘Doughboys’ and our Marines into the war,” Judge Maltese noted. “We did remarkably well. Without the United States, they would speak German in France.
During his speech, the rain began to fall and the water wet the uniforms of the soldiers present. Following the speech by the keynote speaker, the president of the borough, Vito Fossellawas invited to speak.
“These men and women keep it real and remind us that freedom is fragile,” Fossella said. “Freedom is not free. So don’t just come together when things are going well. Let’s stick together when the going gets tough because that’s when we need each other the most, and it’s the United States veteran who reminds us of that every day. So God bless the veterans. God bless those in danger right now, watch over, protect this world, protect our families. »
After the borough president’s speech, red, white and blue wreaths were planted in the wet grass at the foot of the memorial. Next, members of Marine Corps League Detachment 246 performed a ceremonial rifle volley. The thunder of cannons echoed throughout the cemetery as veterans and guests stood resolutely against the raindrops that hit their umbrellas. Tap dancing, performed by the Tottenville High School Ceremonial taps unit, enhanced the moment of reflection.
A distinct sense of unity was present that extended to all participants. Nothing made that more evident than when the event concluded with a chorus of “God Bless America.”
“It’s a very patriotic district; six percent of our population are veterans of all ages,” USIVO said Board Member Lee Covino. “That’s a lot of people. So even though we die, we get old, there are always new people coming. Because it’s an unbroken chain of people from the beginning of this country until now. I am also very honored to be part of it. »
Once reunited, Lucille Herring, chair of the cemetery board, spoke about Mr Wallace.
“Leon Wallace was a patriot,” Herring said. “He took care of this cemetery. When I first met him, I called him “Mr. Flagpole man” because we were the only cemetery in Staten Island without a flagpole. He organized and worked with USIVO, rolling thunderthe Ollis Foundation, and Supreme Memories… They all got together and I filmed them putting up the flag pole, and it was so wonderful. The flagpole is located next to the Frederick Douglass monument, and we have a beautiful flagpole with the American flag and POW flag below. So I just want to thank everyone for that.
Other members of the service made remarks about Mr Wallace, referring to the life he had lived. Deputy Michel Tannousis delivered his own remarks before Taps was performed for the second time, honoring a man who, like many, fought so we could be free.
“I remember Leon, every year he would attend these events,” Tannousis noted. “He would have his arms open, welcoming anyone and everyone who wanted to support veterans. He supported people who supported veterans. For that, Leon, we say thank you, and I thank all the vets for their service.
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