Dear Veterans: Thank You For Your Service

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

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

Veterans Day 2022: Thank You to All Who Served

To All Veterans: Thank you for your service. Welcome home. May we be mindful of your and your families’ sacrifice, and the trust you put in our hands. May we ever endeavor as individuals and as a people to be worthy of it.

I strongly believe this day is not for love of country, but rather gratitude for the steadfastly loyal, strong and courageous. It is a day to honor and appreciate those who will fight for their people no matter how foolish we may be.

May we only call on them with great wisdom and care, and when we do be as firm, steady and committed as they merit. They know the sacrifice and make it willingly. Just please don’t ever let it be in vain or underestimate what they (and all who love them) have given.

Knowing there are so many willing to give their lives for our liberty is extraordinary and humbling. No words can adequately describe it so…thanks.

Images of Ink Stories: Symbols of Service on loan from the Northport-East Northport Public Library to The Firefly Artists.
Images from the exhibition now on view at The Firefly Artists, thanks to the Northport East Northport Public Library

Ink Stories: Symbols of Service

In honor of Veterans’ Day, we are at the Firefly are hosting “Ink Stories: Symbols of Service”
 
This is an amazing project assembled in 2019 by Librarian Kathryn Heaviside of the Northport-East Northport Public library. Here’s an article on the show in the TBR News Media from back when it was put together in 2019. These are deeply meaningful stories. Thank you to all who shared them.
 
The show will be on view at The Firefly Artists, 90 Main St., Northport, NY 11/4-11/13. 
We’re open til 9pm on 11/11 and 11/12.
A photo of a flag with a journal, camera, photos, and other memorabilia
Photo by Benigno Hoyuela on Unsplash

Veterans Testimonial Project

Another very special project is ongoing at the Half Hollow Hills Library. The “Veterans Testimonial Project” invites U.S. veterans from any conflict, to share their experiences and stories, which are recorded and added to the library’s collection. You may witness these testimonials and apply to participate on their website.

In addition to important stories, the library has a collected list there of valuable resources to serve those who serve.

Thank You to all who Share Their Stories and Help us Understand. Thank You to all who Listen.

I am grateful for the times I got to witness veterans of VFW Post 1469 sharing their stories with students of Cold Spring Harbor High School. They did not talk down to these kids, but instead engaged them in frank, and profound conversation, sharing a wealth of information about their experiences.

Thank you to all who host and participate and listen at events like these. It’s really important.

Two lessons stuck with me from such events with these guys:
 
1. Regardless of the validity of our concerns with the bigger picture, it is wrong — very very wrong — to spit on veterans, call them baby killers, and otherwise assume ill of them. It helps nothing and hurts a lot.
 
2. While despots rise and fall, there is enduring glory in being one who gets to be a force for liberation and kindness. Something as simple as a piece of chocolate can transform a “mere” service person into a shining hero and beacon of hope that is never forgotten. Sometimes, even, a miracle of fate 40 years later lets that veteran know this happened.
 
My experience is that these folks are generally not the type to ask for much. They did request that people offer simple, sincere gratitude to the service folk they encounter.
 
 When pressed for what they thought people could do to support those who give so much to serve US, the one thing they asked for was healthcare. Prompt, accessible, access to healthcare. I personally think that’s the least we can do.
 

Here are a few other stories of veterans, their lives and reflections that have indelibly moved me….

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

Heroes Take the Field: USA Patriots Amputee Softball Team

When asked what the USA Patriots: America’s Amputee Softball Team really means to him; what he’d really like the world to know, this is what Joe tells me:

“The whole point of this is to illustrate that, despite whatever life may throw, every day is a new day. The best thing we can ever do is to embrace our new normal and cultivate an attitude that recognizes that the limits we have are self-imposed.

This is what these guys teach me every day — That the life we live is limitless.

We invite you to make the most of it, and take great pride in showing you how it’s done. It’s amazing what happens when we do.”

Read More Here
Photo of Kevin McNeil
Veteran and Volunteer Kevin McNeil

A Day in the Life: Veteran Kevin McNeil

I first met Kevin when he was determined to see his dear friend Deborah’s art exhibition.
 

He’s a big Irish guy with an open face who looks like he could be a bouncer if not for the walker. Quickly realizing he was a veteran, I thanked him for his service and asked if he minded sharing where that had been. He explained that he served in the army for 8 years during the 80’s as a paratrooper in places like Grenada and Kosovo. More recently, he’d spent 12 working for the Veterans Administration until the impact of all those jumps began to catch up with him and he went from working at the VA to being a regular patient. He told me he wished they would start taking volunteers again because he really appreciates all they do for him and wants to keep paying it forward…that there are so many things he is losing the ability to do, but that he always finds ways to be helpful.

When we sat down to talk about stuff, the first thing he wanted me to share was about how important Island Harvest, one of Long Island’s major food banks, is. He told about how he volunteered there most days helping to pack the 600-700 boxes of meals per day that they distribute to the elderly and others who can really use a hand.

He has also been known to volunteer at the Little Shelter Animal Rescue and Adoption Center.

“I work with the strays, helping to socialize them.” 

Once you get to know Kevin for half a second, it’s not hard to picture this gentle giant transforming feral cats with hard knock lives into something a little softer and more trusting.

We are especially grateful for his introducing us to The Rough Riders of LI Sled Hockey

Read Kevin’s Story Here
Photo of WWII Veteran at a local VFW event
Americanism Champion Costantino "Gus" Scutari the first time I think I may have ever laid eyes on him.

Gus Scutari: Syosset's Humble Champion of Americanism

I read this story I was privileged to write with Gus Scutari over and over. Each time I learn something new, I am grateful for all he offered and that so many got to call this WWII Veteran, Memorial Day Parade Organizer, and ardent booster of continuing to endeavor to be a good American in all sorts of ways their friend. 

Click here to read about some of Gus’ experiences and reflections on life…

 

Gus dedicated his life to serving veterans from all wars and to doing what he can to encourage all of us to be the best citizens we can be.

While he had a lot to say about a lot of things, an overwhelming theme seemed to be a determination to remind us all us that our Nation is designed to be what We, the people, will make of it.

As such, we’d better make it good.

Thanks, Gus.

Thank You to Those who Serve Those who Served. Here are Just a Few...

General Needs Logo

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 now annually travels from Maine to DC, 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 all sorts of information. Check out this article from wcax.com.

Photo of Service Dog Puppy sitting in the grass

Puppies with Purpose: American Guide Dog Foundation and America's Vet Dogs...

If you’re looking for something hopeful and heartwarming — who isn’t? — the newsletter, event pages and other materials of the The Guide Dog Foundation and America’s VetDogs are wonderful, filled with inspiring stories about the extraordinary impact these amazing creatures have. You can also check out their Puppy With a Purpose® program. Their collaboration with the NHL, MLB, and other sport organizations to raise awareness about their mission has made America’s VetDogs one of the most recognizable names in the service animal community.
 

 

Grateful to all who Step Up to Offer Appreciation

Here’s a list of Veterans Day 2022 free meals, discounts and offers from VA News

and a more locally focused collection of Veterans Day 2022 Free Meals, Discounts and Offers from LongIsland-ny.com

5 Veterans Day Events Honoring the Military on Long Island

and a more nationally-focused collection of deals, resources and events from Veteran.com