It serves as the unofficial kickoff for the summer season and/or yet another three-day weekend for retailers to fill their coffers with the bounty of retail sales promotions. Sadly, this is what has become of Memorial Day, a national holiday meant to honor those who have died in our nation’s service. Its origins are murky. A number of cities and anecdotes lay claim to its birthplace ranging from women’s groups in the South decorating the graves of Confederate soldiers to freed slaves in Charleston honoring fallen Union soldiers. It was first observed on May 30, 1868 when General John Logan, commander-in-chief of the Grand Army of the Republic (an organization for northern Civil War veterans) issued General Order No. 11, which led to flowers being placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington Cemetery. And while all the northern states officially recognized what was then known as Decoration Day by the 1890s, the South refused to acknowledge it until after World War I. Memorial Day became a national holiday and known by its current name in 1968, when the date was moved from its original May 30 date to the last Monday in May.
Do you know why we honor our deceased veterans with the wearing of the poppy? Why do veterans of the William Bradford Turner Post No. 265 and its Ladies Auxiliary Unit distribute hospitalized veteran-made poppies on Memorial Day and throughout the month of May?
According to the Department of Defense, there are currently 1.4 million men and women on active duty with another 1.1 million serving in the National Guard and Reserve forces to go with more than 2 million military retirees and their family members receiving benefits. With the United States shifting from mandatory conscription to an all-volunteer military force in 1973, a large percentage of the civilian population has no interaction with active duty personnel, making the observation of this weekend’s Armed Forces Day all the more important. While the following weekend’s Memorial Day rightfully continues to be an important acknowledgement of the sacrifices made by the fallen in service of their country, Armed Forces Day is a chance to thank those who’ve taken up the call of duty from their fallen comrades.
Just a quick note to say thanks for your piece on Pete. Growing up listening to him on WNEW and then WFUV, (my favorite radio station), it was indeed a loss to hear of his passing. There are few special DJs that we will always remember and Pete was one of them.
When multimillionaire Alexander Turney Stewart purchased 10,000 acres of the Hempstead Plain for the purposes of creating a community, little did he know that the resulting incorporated Village of Garden City would be proudly standing and thriving nearly a century-and-a-half on. From an aesthetic point of view, this community that takes up all of 5.3 square miles is a lush and vibrant jewel whose residences blend in seamlessly with the village’s ample displays of arboreal beauty and landscaped magnificence. No surprise that the National Arbor Day Foundation, in cooperation with the USDA Forest Service with the National Association of State Foresters, recently designated Garden City “Tree City, USA” for the twenty-third year. (The Garden City Bird Sanctuary and the stately Cedar of Lebanon on the Doubleday property are just some of the organic elements that undoubtedly helped lead to this designation.) So is it any wonder that the pride residents take in the physical aspects of the village are on an equally passionate and uncompromising level when on it comes to the school district? For decades, its high standards have been a beacon for families seeking out a rigorous educational experience for its children. The district’s extracurricular arts and athletic programs are equally extraordinary. (Garden City High School’s Trojans were recently ranked as the top-rated lacrosse team in the nation. The girls’ team has also been nationally ranked.)
We all want to keep the environment clean and green. However, I would like to remind village residents that although we want to have beautiful lawns and flowers, we must keep in mind the village’s law with regard to water conservation (Local Law 3-1987) is now in effect.
On April 26, a seminal voice that was an integral part of the local airwaves was silenced when Port Washington’s hometown hero Pete Fornatale died from a stroke at the age of 66. Part of the class of free-form rock DJs whose ranks included Dennis Elsas, Vince Scelsa and Carole Miller along with late lamented names like WNEW-FM icons Scott Muni, Fornatale mentor Rosko and Alison Steele, the former high school teacher was part of a vanguard of FM broadcasters who counterbalanced the condescending and infantilized manner in which the dominant AM stations of the ’60s and early’70s treated rock ’n’ roll. And while corporate radio monoliths eventually wrapped their rapacious tentacles around any semblance of creativity by way of narrow formatting, skeletal playlists and jocks who were essentially scripted if not automated, Fornatale was one of the dwindling group of Don Quixotes titling at the Clear Channel windmills of the world.
As a child I used to drive with my mother through the Village of Garden City and I was in awe of what I saw: The picture-perfect village store and shops, the sprawling mansions and majestic homes perched on endless rolling hills of green. Many years later, I became the editor of Garden City Life and I am happy to say I know many of the fine residents who live within these abodes and call this special place their home.
During my editorship, I have been privy to all the intricate aspects and inner-workings of this village and listened to the hot-button topics that matter most to all of its residents. And all along the way, I have met passionate and determined individuals, dedicated government officials and longtime public servants who care about their community, their schools and their children’s futures.
Congratulations to No. 5 men’s (12-2) and No. 1 women’s (14-1) lacrosse teams. The men’s team will play their final game of the regular season as they host the Falcons of Bentley College on Saturday, April 28 at 1 p.m. The women’s team will also play their final game of the regular season as they play cross-town rival and fellow Long Island lacrosse powerhouse No. 5 C.W. Post at C.W. Post at 4 p.m. We wish them success as they finish out their regular season and as they go on to the Northeast 10 Conference playoffs.
You would expect an organization created for public benefit that is largely led by government officials would be obligated to report to the public about its activities. Yet the Research Foundation of the State University of New York (SUNY) and its many campus foundations are not required to do so and apparently feel no such compulsion to share information with the public. Instead, these organizations often cloak their activities in secrecy.
As president of United University Professions – the union representing academic and professional faculty at SUNY’s state-operated campuses – I think it’s time to let the sun shine in. It’s time to require the SUNY Research Foundation and campus foundations to be held accountable and to be more transparent.
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