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Lifetime SM Resident Remembers Fallen War Hero

As the village of Stewart Manor works to put the finishing touches on its upcoming Memorial Day observance, residents will once again be reminded that Memorial Day is a day of remembrance and not merely backyard barbecues. Political dignitaries, local clergy and residents will gather on the lawn of the Stewart Manor Country Club on Saturday, May 26, amidst a trio of memorials that honor fallen Stewart Manor residents, to remember those who have lost their lives to secure our freedom.

Among the memorials is a plaque that honors former Stewart Manor resident Lt. Thomas Lyons McVeigh, Marine Corps, who perished during the Korean War. Garden City Life recently had the opportunity to catch up with lifetime Stewart Manor resident Barbara McVeigh, sister-in-law of Lt. McVeigh. McVeigh’s late husband, Brian, also served with the Marines in the Korean War.

“Unfortunately, my husband, Brian, had to escort the body back home,” McVeigh recalled. “It was a very traumatic situation in the family, which totally destroyed [Brian’s] father’s life. His father just never, ever got over it. His mother was a very strong woman, and she lived to be well into her 80s,” she said, adding that she was a “very lovely person” to whom McVeigh grew very close. As the sole surviving son, Brian was not allowed to return to Korea and had to finish his service at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, she added.

Brian had “lots of emotional scars,” McVeigh said. “He told me that there wasn’t a day that went by that he didn’t think of his brother.”

The McVeigh brothers were born and raised in a home on Bromleigh Road. Upon marrying Barbara after his military service, Brian moved to Fernwood Terrace, purchasing Barbara’s childhood home. Thomas McVeigh, a Sewanhaka High School graduate, graduated from Columbia University in June 1950 and soon after became engaged to Sewanhaka classmate Ellen Hansen. Four days into law school at St. John’s University in the fall of 1950, Lt. McVeigh, then a Marines reservist, was called to duty. He was deployed to Korea in January 1951, where he joined the 7th Regiment of the 1st Marine Division.

During his nine months of combat, Lt. McVeigh was wounded three times, each time receiving a Purple Heart Medal. He was killed on Sept. 11, 1951, and was posthumously awarded the Silver Star and Bronze Star medals.

The irony of the date on which he was killed has not been lost. “There was a young man who was killed on Sept. 11 in the [Twin] Towers. He was killed on the very same day that Thomas was, and they both lived on Bromleigh Road,” McVeigh said.

Indeed, the memorial plaque for Lt. McVeigh rests near a memorial for former Stewart Manor resident David Leistman, a bond trader at Cantor Fitzgerald who was killed in the North Tower of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2011, 50 years to the day of when Lt. McVeigh perished. A third memorial rests adjacent to Leistman’s plaque, honoring all 9/11 victims.

So, it is with that backdrop that Stewart Manor will once again pay homage to all of our nation’s fallen war heroes. On Saturday, May 26, at 10 a.m., residents are invited to join together on the lawn of the Stewart Manor Country Club to remember those who have made the supreme sacrifice to secure our freedom.