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2011 Hicksville Memorial Day Service

As the Hicksville Memorial Day Parade concluded the color guards of the U.S. Army units present and those of the United Veterans of Hicksville lined up in formation by the Hicksville War Monuments at the Hicksville Middle School Veterans Plaza. The Post commanders sat in folding chairs by the shade of a tree by the World War I Monument. The weather had changed from a damp rain to a hot and humid day.

The military and veterans groups that had color guards in formation were: the U.S. Army 800th Military Police, the U.S. Army 69th Infantry Foxtrot Company, Charles Wagner American Legion Post 421, William M. Gouse, Jr. Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3211, Gieir-Levitt Jewish War Veterans Post 655, Joseph Barry Catholic War Veterans Post 1946, Henry Biel Masonic War Veterans Post 46 and Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 82.

Honoring Fallen Heroes, Purple Heart Veterans

As always, Memorial Day honors our fallen war heroes. We also pay tribute to Gold Star Mothers, who have a son or daughter who gave their life for our country. This year the United Veterans of Hicksville honored a special group of Patriots, our Purple Heart veterans. Local Vietnam War veteran and Purple Heart recipient Robert Chiappone placed our National Colors and a Military Order of The Purple Heart flag next to the podium. This was to honor our wounded heroes to include our Memorial Day principal speaker Conrad Steers, a Vietnam War Purple Heart recipient. Connie Steers is the current Department Commander of The Military Order of The Purple Heart.

Opening Remarks

Commander Greg Bennett, of the Charles Wagner Post, opened the service welcoming, “Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Airmen, Coast Guardsmen, veterans, honored guests, educators, police officers, firefighters, Scouts, ladies, gentlemen and students to the 2011 Memorial Day Service.” 

The Opening Prayer was recited by Reverend Harold Lay of the Parkway Community Church. All present then recited the Pledge of Allegiance.

Our National Anthem was then sung by Jaysen Rosario accompanied by his classmates in the Hicksville High School and Middle School Bands. The Invocation was then recited by Cantor Richard Pilatsky of Temple Beth Elohim. Then Past Nassau County American Legion Commander Anthony Paternostro recited General John A. Logan’s Grand Army of the Republic General Order No. 11 of May 5, 1868. General Order No. 11 directs Posts, comrades and citizens to decorate the graves of our heroic dead on the 30th day of May, 1868 with the “choicest flowers of springtime,” and “let us raise above them the dear old flag, “ and to assist veterans, their widows and orphans.

Introduction of Grand Marshal, Post Commanders,
Auxiliary Presidents and Honored Guests

Commander Greg Bennett then introduced the Grand Marshal of the 2011 Memorial Day Parade William G. Walden, who is the Commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3211. Commander Joseph Messana of Catholic War Veterans Post 1946 was introduced along with Vice Commander William Ovberg of Jewish War Veterans Post 655, 1st Vice President William Torres of Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 82 and Commander Robert F. Schlengel, Jr. of the Masonic War Veterans Post 46.

Also introduced was Cherie Steers, who is the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3211 Ladies Auxiliary President and Department President of The Military Order of The Purple Heart Ladies Auxiliary. Also acknowledged was American Legion Post 421 Auxiliary President Cynthia Hockbrueckner. Also recognized were our local legislators New York State Assemblyman Michael Montesano and Nassau County Legislator Rose Marie Walker, both who stayed for the entire parade and service.

Also recognized were Captain Frederick Moss, 800th Military Police, Commander Headquarters and Headquarters Company and  1st Lt. David Myones, Commander of Foxtrot Company, 69th Infantry. Also introduced was a special young lady Ms. Angelina Menz, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3211 Poppy Queen.

 Guest Speakers

The Hicksville High School and Middle School Bands played America The Beautiful just before the introduction of our principal speaker Conrad Steers, the department commander of The Military Order of The Purple Heart.

Conrad Steers was escorted to the podium by his fellow Purple Heart veterans Robert Chiappone and William Torres, who both wore woodland camouflage color guard uniforms and berets. They stood behing Conrad Steers as a show of brotherhood among wounded comrades. Willam Torres then introduced Connie Steers. Connie Steers then invited all Purple Heart veterans in the audience to come forward and several did.

Conrad Steers spoke about the history of the Purple Heart dating back to colonial times and his own personal experience being wounded during the Vietnam War during a firefight. Connie Steers expressed deep gratitude to the soldiers who protected him and those Armed Forces members who gave him medical care during his long recovery. He recently met several of his war comrades at a reunion.

Grand Marshal William Walden also addressed the audience as did New York State Assemblyman Michael Montesano and Nassau County Legislator Rose Marie Walker. Larry Sklar of Jewish War Veterans represented Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano and presented Conrad Steers and the Hicksville Veterans Association with a Nassau County Citation.

Also giving remarks were Captain Frederick Moss of the 800th Military Police and 1st Lt. David Myones of the 69th Infantry. Captain Moss asked veterans of each Armed Service and Airborne veterans to stand and be recognized.

Next were our student speakers Ronald Taylor of Holy Trinity High School and Julie George of Hicksville High School. Ronald Taylor was elected Governor of the 2010 American Legion New York Boys State program and also attended the American Legion Boys Nation program in Washington, D.C. He was also a contestant in the Nassau County American Legion Oratorical Contest. Julie George will attend the New York American Legion Girls State program this summer.

Our next student speaker was Edris Samadi of Hicksville High School, who recited the Honor Roll of Hicksville’s War Causalities in a very solemn and dignified manner. Edris Samadi will attend the American Legion Boys State program this summer.

Closing Ceremonies

The United Veterans of Hicksville Post Commanders along with Assemblyman Michael Montesano and Nassau County Legislator Rose Marie Walker placed memorial wreaths by the Hicksville War Monuments. Also assisting was Chief Roy Trangali of the Naval Reserve Retired Enlisted Association. A “Memorial Volley” was then fired by the American Legion Rifle Squad of Frank Ryback, PPC and John Mauro, PPC.  Taps were then sounded by student buglers Andrew Niemczyk and Jaysen Rosario. Reverand Stephanie K. Pope of Saint Stephen’s Lutheran Church then said the Closing Prayer. The Colors were then dismissed by Commander Bennett concluding the service.

 School Bands and Units

The United Veterans of Hicksville especially acknowledge Phillip Grusenmeyer, Supervisor of Fine Arts and Band Coordinator of the Hicksville School District. We thank the Hicksville High School Band and its Director, Molly Tiller. We thank the Hicksville Middle School Bands directed by Jonathan Shmuel and Pat Tarsoly. We also gratefully acknowledge the Hicksville Combined Elementary School Bands directed by Hiliary Sperber, Michael Caruso, Sara Rose Nocero and Zachery Rifkind.

We also thank the Trinity Lutheran School Band and Pom-Pom Girls directed by Eileen Politt. We acknowledge the Old Country Road Twirlers directed by Kelly Corolla; the East Street Eaglettes directed by Meghan Borum; the Dutch Lane Stardusters directed by Denise Cerrato and the Woodland Avenue Kit Katz directed by Nancy Hauser. We also acknowledge the Saint Igantius Loyola School Band and Twirlers directed by Colleen Luzzalo.

The United Veterans of Hicksville acknowledge the hard work and rehearsing of all our student musicians, student twirlers and their band directors that help make the Hicksville Memorial Day Parade a great success.

Hicksville School District

Much is owed to the Hicksville School District for the beautiful landscaping and upkeep of the war monuments and flagpoles at the Hicksville Middle School Veterans Memorial Park. The United Veterans of Hicksville acknowledge our Superintendent of Schools Maureen K. Bright and Board of Education President Susan Powell for supporting Memorial Day. We especially thank David Bell, Director of School Facilities and his staff for placing bleachers, chairs, podium and sound system and beautiful new plants in the Middle School Veterans Memorial Park.

Further Acknowledgements

Numerous Memorial Day acknowledgements were made in last week’s edition. We also acknowledge Mrs. Valerie Schmergel of Plain Lawn Cemetery for the use of Plain Lawn Cemetery during Memorial Day weekend. We especially acknowledge Cory Twibell, editor of the Hicksville Illustrated News and Meg Norris, publisher of the Mid-Island Times for their public relations support of Memorial Day.

Anyone having comments or suggestions about the Hicksville Memorial Day Parade and Service can contact Chairman Greg Bennett at 338-6995. The United Veterans of Hicksville thank the Hicksville community for remembering our honored war dead and supporting the 2011 Hicksville Memorial Day Parade and Service.