BY DEMI GUO
A small crowd gathered before Village Hill in New Hyde Park on Sunday to mark Veterans Day and the centennial of the armistice that ended World War I.
“Veterans both living and dead return to New Hyde Park,” Mayor Lawrence Montreuil said at a ceremony featuring a wreath, a color guard and ceremonial firing party.
Before the ceremony ended with a salute and the firing of rifle blanks, he acknowledged wounds that veterans return home with — both physical and mental— and a reminder of the “effective network of support” in the community.
“That’s us,” Montreuil said. “That’s what we do; they are loved.”
The sentiment was key to people like Erik Amaya, assistant master of the attending Cub Scouts.
“I bring the boys out to this event for a sense of community,” Amaya said. “It’s important to show them values.” The local Cub and Boy Scouts attend the ceremony every year as a tradition, he said.
After all, added Christopher Dean, equipment chairman of the Boy Scouts, being able to go out into the wilderness and enjoy an organization like his should not be taken for granted.
“They fight for that right,” Dean said of service members.
The ceremony ended with a break in Village Hall. There American Legion Post 1089 Commander John McGuire, based in New Hyde Park, delivered a speech. As well as the armistice, the American Legion is also set to celebrate its own upcoming centennial. As that date approaches, he emphasized two things.
One, a desire to boost the Legion’s dwindling numbers. “We need to grow our membership to continue fighting for veterans’ benefits,” he said.
Two, that it is equally important to help those whom retired Marine Corps Sgt. Jim Lutz called “the younger ones.”
Service members are still coming home from conflicts, Lutz said. Between him and McGuire, the consensus was clear: In dealing with reintroduction to society and mental rehabilitation, only other veterans can understand veterans. “We need better support,” McGuire said.
In addition to the centenaries of the American Legion and armistice, the Marine Corps celebrated its birthday the day before. It is also the 99th anniversary of the establishment of Armistice Day, which later became Veterans Day, as a holiday.
“We as veterans do appreciate you remembering us,” McGuire said.