Members of the Lawrence F. Keene American Legion Post #1458 gathered at the war memorial in Keene Square Park on Veterans Day to honor those who have served.
Veterans and their families marched from the post’s storefront location, down the block onto Westchester Avenue where the war memorial sits.
The short ceremony was followed by a luncheon back at the post on Buhre Avenue.
As the group walked down the street, holding up the American flag and the flag for Post #1458, a few people across the street waved and shouted to the veterans to thank them for their service.
At the memorial, U.S. veteran Joe Colucci, read prayers to “honor our veterans, worthy men and women, who gave their best when they were called upon to serve and protect their country.”
Amber Patriarca, granddaughter of Post #1458 commander Joe Patriarca, read a short speech she wrote.
“In school last year we were learning about World War II,” she read. “When I came home to do homework that night my grandpa told me that my great grandfather was on Normandy Beach on D-Day.”
“I did not know my great grandfather but if he were here today I would thank him for his service,” she added.
Patriarca’s father, and Amber’s great grandfather, was Antonio Patriarca, a former Post #1458 commander.
Walking down to the Lawrence Keene Memorial is a decades old tradition for post #1458.
Usually, when the veterans head down to the site they add a name of a deceased veteran to the monument.
This was the first year they did not add a name.
In 2014 they added Antonio Patriarca’s name to the memorial. The following year Joe’s brother John Patriarca, a U.S. Navy Veteran, was added.
In previous years the post has added as many as 18 names to the monument.
The memorial, which was created in 1969, was originally built to house only names of Post #1458 members but was eventually opened to all veterans.
In addition, the monument includes the names of those who died in battle and those who died later in life of other causes.
“It means a lot,” the commander, who served in the Marine Reserves from 1968 to 1974, said of the post’s yearly Veteran’s Day Practices. “These veterans they deserve it.”
Carmine Rizzo, a 30- year Bronx resident, also said it was important to make sure this country’s veterans get their due.
Rizzo is a long time friend of former post #1458 commander Lou Durante, a WWII veteran, who passed away in 2014 after a battle with cancer.
Rizzo, whose father and uncle served in WWII, said Durante taught him everything he knows about running the post and he stepped in following Durante’s death.
“It’s always good to help with places like this,” he said.
As for the luncheon, Patriarca was pleased with the turnout.
He laughed as he looked over to the approximately 40 to 50 people eating with their friends and family.
“It’s more than we had last year,” he said with a chuckle.