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

She Who Served: Rosemarie Highlights Female Veterans

Photo of mural with Statue of Liberty against a US Flag
Thanks, Rosemarie!

I am grateful for my friend Rosemarie Kluepfel, who is endlessly endeavoring to serve those who served. She does much of this work through the foundation run by her employer, The Fairway Independent Mortgage Corporation. She has also found her voice as a musician, performing with the Chuck Evans Band throughout Long Island (They’ll be at Honu Kitchen & Cocktails in Huntington on 12/30 from 6-9pm if you want to catch her there!).

Here’s a song she wrote that fits both her passion and the season, “A Soldier’s Christmas”


Raising Awareness

Rosemarie recently saw her daughter enter the service. Being the mother of US Army Lieutenant Alexa Kluepfel only adds to her care for those who sacrifice so much for our Nation. It also draws more of her attention to the experiences and issues of women in the military.

Please check out this profound video that Rosemarie helped coordinate and run with the Melville Chamber of Commerce: “Women Who Served: A Veteran’s Day Tribute!” It features three female veterans, one who served during WWII, another in Vietnam and the third in Afghanistan.


Serving Human Beings

Rosemarie also wants you to know that the Fairway Foundation is currently focused on providing financial and practical assistance to one particular veteran. This individual has experienced significant trauma and is currently homeless while struggling to balance work, school and raising a 1 1/2 year old daughter alone. To protect her privacy, they are keeping her name confidential. They also want folks to know they are endeavoring to make sure their donation is a “leg up” rather than a “hand out.”


You Can Help!

The Fairway Foundation welcomes cash donations to assist this cause. All funds raised will be earmarked specifically for this veteran and her daughter. There are NO Admin fees. Checks may be made payable to “The Fairway Foundation” and mailed to the Fairway Independent Mortgage branch c/o Rosemarie Kluepfel at 1200 Veterans Highway Suite 102, Hauppauge NY 11788.

The Foundation is a 501c(3) charitable organization. The donation may be tax deductible. While it must be understood that the veteran has no place to store things until she has a home, in-kind donations may be welcomed, especially clothes sized 2t-3t. Please contact Rosemarie on her cell at 631-662-4576 to discuss this option.

Thanks!

Half Hollow Hills Library Offers Valuable Resources and “Veterans Testimonial Project”

A photo of a flag with a journal, camera, photos, and other memorabilia

We Love Libraries!

Our dear friend, Ellen Druda recently brought to our attention the “Veterans Testimonial Project” of the Half Hollow Hills Library. From their website:

“The Library has created a project to help preserve our community’s rich history. We are looking for U.S. veterans from any conflict, to share their experiences and stories. All interviews will be conducted and recorded at the Library. Each will be added to the Library’s local history collection. All participating veterans will receive a personal copy of the recording as a DVD. Call Edna Susman at 631-498-1260 to register for this important project.”

Check it out, including the incredible collection of testimonials they’ve already recorded and a fantastic collection of online resources to serve those who served.

General Needs is On A Mission

The primary mission of General Needs is to assist homeless veterans and veterans in need to live lives of dignity by providing new, basic essentials.

Have you seen what Lonnie Sherman’s been up to lately? The General Needs 1342 Mission, traveling from Maine to DC, is donating 1342 (22 x 61) pairs of boots and 8,030 (22 x 365) pairs of socks to serve veterans and draw our solemn attention to the 22 veterans who, on average, take their own lives each day.

Visit the General Needs Facebook Page for an incredibly touching photo journal. Check out this article from wcax.com.

There is still time to support this

Syosset Road Renamed in Honor of Gus Scutari

Photo of Gus Scutari and Eagle Scouts of Syosset Troop 205

Gus Scutari with Eagle Scouts from Troop 205 in 2019. Photo by Katheryn Laible

Today, a portion of Underhill Boulevard in Syosset was renamed in honor of one of Long Island’s most ardent champions of Americanism and good citizenship, the passionate organizer of the Syosset Memorial Day Parade, Gus Scutari.

You can read about it on the Nassau County NY webpage.

You can find images from the event taken by Gus’ friend, whom he smartly recruited to join the Syosset American Legion, Terri Squires on the Legion’s Facebook Page.

Gus passed away early this spring at the age of 99. Here is the piece we got to write with him: Gus Scutari: Syosset’s Humble Champion of Americanism. He had a number of interesting things to say that we are still thinking about.

He is dearly missed and greatly appreciated. Thank you, Gus.

In Memoriam: Gus Scutari

Photo of Gus Scutari at 2019 Memorial Day Parade by Katheryn Laible

We are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Costantino “Gus” Scutari, shortly after his 99th birthday.

Gus dedicated his life to promoting good, thoughtful citizenship, love for our country and properly honoring our nation’s fallen military service folk. The proud Americanism Chairman of Nassau County, Gus is perhaps best known in Syosset for his dedication to the Memorial Day Parade. Among our Scouts, he was also well known for faithfully attending every Eagle Ceremony, where he would honor all those who achieved that high rank with an American Flag pin.

It was an honor and a privilege to have this gentleman as a fundamental part of our community. Here are stories of his life, things that mattered to him, and bits of his wisdom that he shared with us a few years ago.

Here’s a little video from the 2019 Syosset Memorial Day Parade, which, with a little help from his friends, he organized from his room at the Cold Spring Hills Nursing Home last year. Here are some photos from that day.

Here is Gus, in his own words, telling the story of when his destroyer, the U.S.S. Haynsworth was hit by a Kamikaze during World War II. He always counted himself very lucky that he didn’t have to see the worst of that, and was ever mindful of so many – during that conflict and others – who did.

We feel we are better people for having known Gus. Our hearts are with all who love him. He will be dearly missed.

Thank you, Gus.

On the Human Services Front

A lovely piece from Firefly Kate Sydney’s Compassion Collection

One of the many folks on the Human Services front that we’ve long appreciated is Dr. Jeffrey Reynolds of the Family & Children’s Association in Nassau County. He suggest that this press update from NYS Senator Kaplan is a good resource for those who care and/or need services during this challenging time, be they senior services, hunger, housing, healthcare, domestic violence, drug addiction, or legal services.

We were heartened to hear that caring LIers crashed the LI Cares website trying to make donations. Still, food banks are facing significant challenges, especially with everyone rushing the grocery stores!

They are running an “Essential Drive in Response to COVID-19 School Closures, which you may donate to here. You can check out their Facebook Page for information on what they’re doing to serve our most vulnerable, including mobile food pantries!

From The INN: What You Can Do to Help Right Now

Housing Help has been offering info on legislative and other matters that impact housing and more

Mental Health: We don’t know where this “Waves of Wellness” is based, save Facebook, but it’s been helpful

For Veterans: One of the better sources of information we’ve come across aimed directly at vets is Patchogue VFW Commander Dave Roger’s personal Facebook Page. We are grateful for his service.

For Seniors: Stop and Shop will be open exclusively to folks over 60 from 6-7:30am starting Thursday. This lets them get there when it’s the least touched and the best stocked. We are grateful.

First — Puppies!!!

Image provided by the Guide Dog Foundation

If there’s one silver lining, it’s that the dogs of the world have not only been cleared of their own virus scare, they also suddenly have their people home a lot more!

Of course, some very special canines get to stay with their people wherever they go. We were going to share our adventures learning about the incredible service dogs at the Guide Dog Foundation, and Americas Vet Dogs, but realize they are probably occupied with more important things this month than helping us edit a long-form article.

So…soon…

Meanwhile, we invite you to please support the valuable work of the Guide Dog Foundation, and Americas Vet Dogs and to check out their newsletter and testimonials. The stories are incredibly uplifting and heartwarming. Check ’em out here and here

NOTE! There may be special ways folks can help them navigate the current situation soon. Watch their websites and social media as well as our Facebook Page for details!!!

Gus Scutari: Syosset’s Humble Champion of Americanism

We read this over and over and learn something new each time — WWII Veteran, Memorial Day Parade Organizer, and ardent booster of continuing to endeavor to be a good American in all sorts of ways, Gus Scutari reflects on life.

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