Written by Melissa Argueta Friday, 24 February 2012 00:00
On Valentine’s Day, love was a many splendored thing for one Levittown couple who renewed their wedding vows during a romantic ceremony performed by Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray at the American Airpower Museum in Farmingdale.
Standing among a collection of vintage American aircrafts and fighter planes, a group of Nassau County GIs with compelling wartime love stories gathered together to renew their commitment to each other in front of a large crowd of friends and family.“Our veterans have proved, time and time again, the commitment and love they have for our great nation,” Murray said. “It is therefore fitting that this Valentine’s Day, we focus on the love and commitment our veterans and their spouses have for one another.”
A veteran who served in both the Korean and Vietnam Wars, Walter Hetzel faced one of his biggest challenges when he set out to win the heart of his true love, Patricia.
After returning from overseas, Walter spotted Patricia across the room at a party in 1961. The charming soldier bet his friends that he could get a kiss from a young Patricia before the dance was over. To achieve his mission, he told her he would bet a nickel that he could kiss her without even touching her. However, Walter purposely lost the bet and planted a big kiss on Patricia’s lips and handed her back the nickel.
The two lovebirds were soon engaged in June of 1965, but the wedding had to be postponed as Walter was drafted into the U.S. Army weeks later. Assigned to a missile training squad, Walter served in Vietnam for three years from 1965 to 1967. He returned to the states and married Patricia, three months later. This year, the happy couple celebrates their 45th wedding anniversary.
In an interview with The Levittown Tribune, the 42-year Levittown residents expressed their excitement to renew their vows of marriage alongside other veterans. “This is very nice. We’re honored to be here,” Patricia said.
Wedding reception guests were treated to cake and enjoyed a champagne toast, courtesy of Supervisor Murray. Sponsoring the event were Stop & Shop Supermarket, A Taste of Home Bakery of North Bellmore, Mormile Florist of Rockville Centre and the American Airpower Museum.
Murray remarked that the event afforded the Town an opportunity to appreciate and give back to the many veterans living in Nassau County. A former Hempstead Town Clerk, Murray has married nearly 300 couples during her career and said it was an honor and delight to perform the ceremonies. “I loved every minute of it,” Murray said.
“Every year, we try to make a big deal out of Valentine’s Day, usually at Town Hall. This year, we thought about veterans, giving back to them, we thought of this museum…You know what is so nice is that the back stories of every couple are as unique as the couples themselves,” she said.