Veterans Day ceremony at Rudy Macina Peace Plaza

Veterans and those who remember the heroic acts of our military gathered on Pelham Parkway this past Veterans Day.

The Morris Park Community Association, Morris Park Kiwanis Club, and members of several American Legion posts, came together at Rudy Macina Peace Memorial Plaza to recall the sacrifices of our veterans on Friday, November 11.

Silvio Mazzella coordinated the patriotic gathering, which featured a U.S. Marine Corps. color guard, a flag raising ceremony, taps being played Al Nictona, and the ‘National Anthem’ and ‘God Bless America’ sung by Jillian Cannata. Fr. John Knapp of Our Lady of Assumption provided the invocation.

“I think what we are hoping to do is make more people aware of the role the veteran plays,” said Mazzella, adding that ceremony speakers discussed the needs of veterans who have come home from war, and that they cannot be forgotten.

Among the Veteran’s Day ceremony’s speakers were Assemblyman Michael Benedetto; Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj; Tony Vitaliano, CB 11 chairman; Tommy Messina representing Congressman Joseph Crowley; Gene DeFrancis, Allerton Avenue Merchants Association; Joe Thompson, 49th Precinct Community Council president; David Lepore, 49th Precinct Community Affairs Officer and Earl Menard Jr. of the American Legion John Fraser Bryant Post #19.

Menard encouraged the people present to celebrate the good work that veterans do after they get out of the service, and said that they make their community’s more structurally sound and stable places to live.

“It is a service-oriented type of a person,” said Menard of veterans who are reaching out to their fellow community members, adding “We are people who do not sit still.”

Menard said that he is making plans to celebrate the post’s centennial, which will be in 2019, and also spoke about an American Legion contest for all high school students on the Bill of Rights that grants college scholarships to those with the best ideas. For more information call him (917) 325-0300.

Benedetto spoke about the crisis in veteran homelessness, and he said more needs to be done to help an estimated 8,000 veterans who are living outdoors on Long Island. He championed the cause of peer-to-peer intervention to help heal their hidden wounds.

Gjonaj said in his remarks that it was unfortunate that Veterans Day was one of the few times a year, along with Memorial Day, where special attention is paid to veterans.

The assemblyman said that community embraces veterans.

The event continues to draw a large crowd every year, said Tony Signorile, MPCA president, which he finds very gratifying.

“This event has been going on since the 1970s, when it started with Rudy Macina,” said Signorile, adding “I think the word is out there that we need to unify and bring our children to honor the sacrifices of our veterans in the past and continuing on today.”

Reach Reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 260–4597. E-mail him at Follow him on Twitter @patrickfrocchio.

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