The Gus Scutari Challenge Coin

Photo of Gus Scutari Challenge Coin by Katheryn Laible

Thank You Gus

I always mention Gus Scutari on Memorial Day as coordinating that parade down Jackson Avenue in Syosset was very important to him. It was also how most of the broader community got to know him. Maybe, though, the 4th of July is an even better time to talk about him.

Here is the story I was blessed to write with Gus. I share it often because I think what Gus had to say was important, that the impact he had on people was incredibly positive, and that his brand of patriotism is among those I most deeply appreciate. I also find that, the more I read those words, which are mostly his, the more I learn.

Gus was friendly, and witty. He knew how to have a good time, and how to make other people feel seen and heard. He felt very strongly about the American Flag, and honoring our Nation’s Veterans. At the same time, his patriotism was very personal. Gus cared about the big systems and decisions, for sure, but what he really emphasized was the importance of the individual; the everyday choices we make as citizens, and the idea that America will only ever be as good as we, its people, will.

Gus wanted folks to give it their best and to think for themselves. He wanted people to be good to each together. Mostly, he wanted us to give it our best to be worthy of so many who give so much, and to let the world know that most of the folks he met in this life seemed to agree. For this, he was deeply thankful.

From an event honoring local champion of veterans Gus Scutari in 2016

Honoring Good Citizenship

I wrote recently about Max becoming an Eagle Scout. One of the things a parent is instructed to do when their child earns this honor is to alert all the localities’ elected officials and other key civic associations, all the way up to the President and whomever else, that someone has basically just earned a degree in good citizenship. Everyone has their own way of responding and you end up with this pile of certificates that I find fascinating.

By far, the most meaningful token came from the local VFW, Post No. 6394, recently named the “Gus Scutari” Post in Syosset: A Gus Scutari Challenge Coin. This coin speaks not only to who Gus was as a person, but to the impact he had on those around him; an impact perhaps most directly illustrated in this very endeavor by our local veterans to imbue Gus’ joyful, earnest civic spirit in others. It’s what Gus did himself, after all, for so many years with whomever caught his eye and returned his friendly smile.

In addition to his nickname, “Mr. Memorial Day,” Gus was also the “Americanism Chairman of Nassau County.” A proud booster of the Scouts, he attended ALL local Eagle Ceremonies. He was known for his entertaining, thoughtful speeches, and for his way of pinning a US flag on the kid’s chest as a badge of good citizenship and a reminder to keep it up.

I don’t think Gus ever left the house without his VFW hat. He was known as a WWII hero, though he’d tell you over and again, he got lucky. When he told the Vietnam Veterans and so many others that their own service was at least as honorable, thank you for doing the best you could figure how, it meant a very great deal. Every Memorial Day, Gus encouraged folks to make the best of things; to be good citizens worthy of the fact that young people give their lives for them. Gus was a great booster for both the VFW and the American Legion in Syosset and beyond. Moreover, he was an incredible ambassador and a proud, responsible member of the United States. If you asked, many who knew of him would tell you that Gus was The Community Spirit of Syosset, if not America herself.

Because it’s up to US

Gus advanced the Patriot Pen and Voice of America Scholarship Programs and would regularly talk to young and old alike about history and current events, honoring people for their service and asking folks to think about things and consider what it is best We the People do.

Why? Because the basic message from Gus is that we have the freedom to make what we will of this Nation, and that, yes, the grand actions of leaders and heroes are important, but it’s how everyday people choose to conduct themselves that makes a difference, and that sometimes it may seem like a crazy thing to do, but doing the right thing seems to work out pretty well most of the time. Even when it doesn’t, it’s still the right thing to do.

It was an honor for Max to receive this coin, and I am blessed that he shares it with me and that together we can offer it to you. May we go on out there, try to stand up straight and make the best of whatever life hands us. May we take it at least as well as we give it, give it our best to be decent and honorable, and remember, whatever happens, to laugh.

May God Bless America.

 

Dear Veterans: Thank You For Your Service

From an event honoring local champion of veterans Gus Scutari in 2016

Thank you to all who served. In honor of Veterans Day 2023 we offer deep gratitude, good resources and indelibly moving stories.

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Life Without Limits: The USA Patriots Want You to Know About the Winters Center for Autism

Image of USA Patriots: America's Amputee Softball League with a Winters Center for Autism banner.

Joe recently wrote in gratitude for support from the Winter’s Center for Autism, a foundation that provides employment opportunities for adults with autism. He was excited at sharing their passion for “Life Without Limits.”

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Dear Veterans: Thank You For Your Service

From an event honoring local champion of veterans Gus Scutari in 2016

Thank you to all who served. In honor of Veterans Day 2022 we offer deep gratitude, good resources and indelibly moving stories.

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Heroes Take the Field: USA Patriots Amputee Softball Team

Photo of the USA Patriots with Joe Bartumioli. Photo Credit: Steve Caputo

Come to The Firefly Artists 7/22 starting at 5pm for a special reception with extraordinary heroes: The USA Patriots Amputee Softball Team.

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Memorial Day Meaning and Events on Long Island

WWII Veteran Gus Scutari leads children in honoring fallen soldiers at the 2015 Syosset Memorial Day Parade

Every Memorial Day, Gus Scutari would invite veterans, Long Island dignitaries and the children up. Learn about the 2022 Syosset parade here in the Syosset Patch.

Here is a guide to resources for honoring Memorial Day 2022 on Long Island.

The last Monday in May, this three-day weekend at the dawn of summer, is set aside to honor the tremendous sacrifice made by soldiers who gave all. It is a time to pause and acknowledge how veterans offer their very souls to our Nation, and to give solemn consideration to the responsibility we have as citizens to ensure they are treated well and that we give it our best to create a nation somehow worthy of such sacrifice.

While the specific focus is those lost to war, it is also important to recognize those left behind. For many, this is a very personal affair. Please do not say “Happy Memorial Day” as many are honoring lost loved ones and reckoning with memories, knowledge and feelings that are incredibly difficult. It is better to offer gratitude for service, and to offer a listening ear and an open heart.

I have been told by several veterans that this does not mean the day should be entirely without joy. The barbecues and the lighter sides of the parades are important moments of community and, yes, even celebrations of life and nation. May we do so with a mind to surround service families in love, light, and gratitude for the blessings they seek to offer so much to preserve.

Veterans in Syosset assemble for the 2018 Memorial Day Parade while a local child prepares to hand out flags to onlookers.
Veterans in Syosset assemble for the 2018 Memorial Day Parade while a local child prepares to hand out flags to onlookers.

Various Guides to Memorial Day and Where They’ll Lead You

Here’s a Guide to Memorial Day Parades from News12 Long Island including Island Park, Airshow Cruises in Freeport, Hempstead, a Riverhead Painting Festival, Bay Shore, Elwood, Farmingdale, Freeport, Little Neck, Long Beach, Malverne, Massapequa Park, Mastic, a Parade and Open House at Raynham Hall in Oyster Bay, Merrick, Northport, Painview-Old Bethpage, Sayville, St. James, Smithtown, Southold, and West Islip

This one of parades and events from the LI Press includes the Bethpage Air Show, Hempstead (the oldest parade on LI), The Largest Parade of the Five Towns in Cedarhurst, an Air Show Cruise in Freeport, Little-Neck Douglastown (one of the largest in the nation), Massapequa, Wantagh, Port Washington, the Parade and Open House at Raynham Hall, Levittown, an event of music, food, and fun at Harbes Family Farm in Mattituck, Babylon, Southold, and Lindenhurst.

From Greater Long Island we learn about parades in Bay Shore, Babylon, Patchogue, Stony Brook, Fire Island, Huntington, Rockville Centre, Center Moriches, Farmingdale, and Ronkonkoma.

Festive marchers with red white and blue balloons at the 2018 Syosset Memorial Day Parade
Festive marchers with red white and blue balloons at the 2018 Syosset Memorial Day Parade

A Bit of History and More Current Stories on Honoring the Day

Here is the encyclopedic definition of Memorial Day from Britannica.

You can learn more on the History website.

Here is a meaningful piece in the LI Advance offered by Dave Rogers in 2021. He was a tremendous asset to veterans, the arts, and local business in Patchogue for many years. Thanks to social media, he continues to serve veterans everywhere from his new home.

Here is a piece on a call for a county-wide moment of silence by Long Island leaders featured on Texas Public Radio.

This story from News12 LI is about Ron Errickson Jr, who be spending this weekend cleaning up Tinton Falls, a cemetary in New Jersey of African American soldiers who weren’t permitted to be buried with white ones.

Here, the National Park Service looks back over 150 years of Memorial Day traditions springing up across the nation. It also offers links to specific major memorial sites in its care, including The Korean War Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, National Mall and Memorial Parks, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, World War II Memorial.

In another piece from History, did you know that one of the earliest Memorial Day events in the USA was held by freed slaves?

This feature in Almanac offers some more history including why the Poppy is important, the poem “On Flanders Field,” and a bit about the flag and distinguishing holidays honoring those who serve in the military. There are also recipes and the Memorial Day calendar for the next several years.

Finally, here is my own piece honoring Costantino “Gus” Scutari. Gus was a World War II Veteran who long served as a champion for good citizenship and thoughtful Americanism, and who dedicated his later life to the Syosset Memorial Day Parade. He passed at the age of 99 in April of 2020. He is now a namesake of Underhill Blvd, where he long held the ceremonies following the parade, and the Syosset VFW, where he would invite everyone for hot dogs and refreshments after.

It is fitting to hear that in honor of his memory and an enduring spirit that is likely leading it anyway, there will be no Grand Marshal of this parade.

Learn about the Syosset parade on Syosset Patch.

Veterans in Syosset assemble for the 2018 Memorial Day Parade
Veterans in Syosset commence the 2018 Memorial Day Parade

Moonjumpers Partner with Six Harbors Brewery to Serve Little Shelter and Angels of Warriors

Monnjumpers Mash Pale Ale Beercan Lable

The Moonjumpers have partnered with Six Harbors Brewery on a new craft beer, The label, shown above, was designed by Emma DeDora. She’s a cousin of Six Harbors Co-Owner Karen Heuwetter. Featured among the dogs is Moonjumper Co-Founder Rob Benson’s dear friend Cliff, who is himself a rescue from the Little Shelter.

Event Alert: Moonjumpers Charitable Foundation Partners with Six Harbors Brewery to Make Good Times Great Times by Serving the Little Shelter and Angels of Warriors​

A driving idea, from the very founding of the Moonjumpers Charitable Foundation is that a good time becomes a great time when people come together to help others. For more than ten years now, the Moonjumpers have served “children, families, war veterans and charitable and not-for-profit organizations through financial assistance and the purchase of products or equipment so as to aid in creating a better quality of life for those in need.”

Their merry endeavor includes a theme song, a dog named Cliff, and a passion for good fellowship and community partnerships. They tend to have a really good time even when they’re simply offering a financial donation or providing a direct service, such as rolling up their sleeves to help associates serve veterans or spearheading a coat drive to support the community served by a local youth organization.

They like it best, though, when they can really make a party of it. It’s been tough these last few years, but they are on it and hope you will join them in a really cool partnership with Six Harbors Brewing Company:

What: Stop on in for the unveiling of a new beer and beer can design for this “Moonjumpers Mash Pale Hale” to be available at Six Harbors Brewing Company.
 
Benefitting: A portion of proceeds from the sale of this beer will be donated to Little Shelter Animal Rescue & Adoption.
 
When: May 19, 2022, from 5-8pm.
 
What: Moonjumpers and friends are among sponsors of this event. Ten North Shore Breweries will offer samples of their beverages from 1-4pm. Ticket holders will receive a commemorative glass and enjoy music from a steel drum band, delicious food, vendors, and fun activities.
 
Benefitting: Proceeds from the event will be donated to Angels of Warriors, which serves local female veterans in need. In addition, a portion of proceeds from all sales of the Moonjumpers Mash Pale Ale will be donated to Little Shelter Animal Rescue & Adoption.
 
When: Saturday, June 11, 2022 (rain date Saturday, June 25, 2022).
 
To Register: General admission, VIP tickets and more information are available here.
 

Both events will be held at Six Harbors Brewing Company, 243 New York Avenue, Huntington

Fun Stuff!!!