Written by Rachel Shapiro Friday, 02 July 2010 00:00
Marking 18 years since the first of several Walls of Honor went up in Eisenhower Park, about 1,500 people gathered there last weekend to pay tribute to men and women who served in the armed forces.
On a bright and sunny Saturday morning on June 26, among the numerous American flags, small and large, officials from Nassau County government and the Nassau County Veterans Monument Fund held a short but meaningful ceremony where 320 veterans’ names were added to the walls.
Ed Boyce of Hempstead is one of those veterans whose names were unveiled on the walls. He served in the Korean War, along with his two brothers. He said this was his first ceremony for the walls and hoped to add his brothers’ names at some point.
Mike Frisoli and Joe Del Aquila, both of Garden City Park, are among those veterans who have attended these ceremonies throughout the years whenever names are added to the walls.
Frisoli served during WWII in the U.S. Navy and Del Aquila also served during WWII in the U.S. Army. Del Aquila’s brother, Michael, just had his name added to the wall and he was hoping to take some photos of the newly added names on the walls to send to his sister-in-law in North Carolina.
Both say it looked to them that more people were in attendance than previous years.
“It seems like there’s a lot of families, with seven or eight people a piece,” Frisoli said. And that’s what the NCVMF is hoping the walls continue to do; create a place for families to gather and pay tribute.
The veterans that make up the Nassau County Veterans Monument Fund, “are veterans who have continued to give to our county and our country,” County Executive Ed Mangano said that day. “These veterans are making certain that our veterans are honored and remembered, that our veterans and their families have a place to gather… largely because of their efforts.”
Vice chairman of the NCVMF, Joe Pascarella, said the wall welcomes names from all over the country, not just Nassau County.
To get a veteran’s name on the wall, the names of living or deceased veterans can be submitted to the NCVMF, along with a copy of their DD214, discharge papers, and $100, Pascarella said. A brief military biography; 50 words or less, can also be submitted.
“When we first started in 1992, we estimated it would cost $50 to put a name on the wall,” he told the Levittown Tribune. “We collected $100 and used the other $50 for other monuments.” He said the POW/MIA Monument and Vietnam Monument in the park were built from those funds.
The cost of building a wall, about $50,000 Pascarella said, is hard to fundraise so the new names were added to the existing Walls of Honor.
He said the group received a grant of $50,000 from State Senator Craig Johnson and they plan on using it to install much-needed bathrooms near the Wall of Honor. But other than that, money is hard to come by.
“We can never get ahead, Pascarella lamented. “We’ve been trying to have a fundraiser but money just doesn’t come in.”
The restroom will be built about 25 feet away from the monument, he said, because there are many seniors who visit the monument and there are no restrooms nearby.
The monument fund also hopes to build a kiosk where visitors can search electronically for a veteran’s name and biography; the search will bring up the name and a short statement about that person. He said the group just started discussing the idea of a kiosk with the county a few weeks ago, but hopes it can be built to service those who visit the wall.
The first of the Walls of Honor at Eisenhower Park was built in 1992 to honor and remember those who fought for our country; names are placed on the small, heavy walls for family and friends to view.
One can find numerous monuments surrounding the walls in the park in East Meadow, honoring veterans, from the POW/MIA and WWII memorials and plaques that are scattered throughout the monument area to the 9/11 monuments found near the water.
Mangano, whose father served in the Korean War, stressed that veterans should not be forgotten.
“It’s important that we remember that people have left their loved ones, rose to the call, paid tribute to their country by making sacrifices,” Mangano said. “Some made the supreme sacrifice, never to return to their families, others fortunately, like my father returned.”
“It’s important that we remember the sacrifices they made; they missed births of children, first communions, first confirmations, bar and bat mitzvahs, they missed pre-school graduations, high school graduations…they missed important parts of their lives,” Mangano said. “Important parts were gone because they rose to defend the country. It’s because of their efforts we can even gather here today, free to agree or disagree, free to pursue the American Dream.”