Sayville, NY - A capacity crowd of friends, family and officials packed into American Legion Smith/Wever Post 651 on March 21, 2017, as veterans hosted an Award and Remembrance Ceremony honoring Long Island heroes of the Korean War.
“The Forgotten War” brutally raged between 1950-1953 and was the first major armed clash between the free world and communist forces as the so-called “Cold War” turned hot. Unfortunately, many Korean War veterans consider themselves forgotten, their place in history sandwiched between the sheer size of World War II and the fierce controversies of the Vietnam War.
However, on Tuesday evening, twenty of those humble veterans, now in their 80s and 90s, were front and center as they were granted long overdue accolades by their fellow Long Islanders. Amid great applause and tears, Post 651’s WW II, Cold War, Vietnam, Desert Storm and Global War on Terror veterans bestowed The American Legion’s hallowed Grateful Appreciation Medal and Certificate to each and every one of them.
Also presented were New York State Certificates of Appreciation from Sen. Thomas D. Croci and presentations by Town of Islip elected officials John C. Cochrane Jr., Steven J. Flotteron, and Alexis Weik. The ceremony was topped off with historic displays, refreshments and special guest heroes from the Korean War Veterans Association of Greater New York.
It should be remembered that during the Korean War over 100,000 U.S. servicemen and women were wounded while another 36,574 paid the ultimate sacrifice for another’s freedom. To this day, over 7,800 American soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines are still missing. However, their victory was not in vain. Thus while communist North Korea remains dark, South Korea prospers as one of the world’s richest countries. Even in the face of the North’s continued saber-rattling, The Republic of Korea is free.
Post 651 Commander Steven Antonacci eloquently summed up the evening’s sentiment: “It was a great pleasure for American Legion Post 651 to honor our Long Island veterans of Korea. It is our duty to ensure that those heroes of ‘The Forgotten War’ are Forgotten No More.”