By Joan Furey
Sayville Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 433 hosted its annual barbeque for hospitalized veterans recently and over 50 veterans, plus staff from the Long Island State Veterans Home at Stony Brook, the Northport Veterans Affairs Medical Center and the Suffolk County United Veterans Homeless Program in Yaphank were honored.
Commander Joe White gave a warm welcome to the veterans and guests and Post Chaplain Ron Bergmann led everyone in an opening prayer. Hamburgers, cheeseburgers and chicken were served with multiple side dishes and salads. Once again entertainment was provided by the Wednesday Nite Line Dancers and Post 433 member Don Valenti.
Post 433 was happy to have the support and assistance of members of the NSA Naples Naval Reserve Unit from Amityville, members of the Sayville High School History Club as well as many friends and family of Post members.
A special thanks to Mike Huggins a history teacher from Sayville High School who coordinated donations from students at Sayville High School to provide each of the veterans with a "ditty bag" with their service emblem on it. Each bag had a personal note written to the veteran from one of the students. Huggins, an air force veteran who served in Afghanistan, knows the way to a veterans heart. There were more than a few moist eyes at the tables as many of the volunteers read the letters to the veterans.
Everyone in the crowd including veterans, volunteers, Post 433 members, hospital staff and other guests, gathered in a circle, holding hands and singing along with Lee Greenwood's rendition of "I'm Proud to be an American." Everyone joined to together and sang in recognition of the service of all our men and women in uniform who sacrificed so much in order to secure our freedoms.
As their vans left the parking lot, Post 433 members lined up outside the hall and presented a hand salute to their departing guests, proud to be Americans and grateful for the opportunity to demonstrate their gratitude to these special veterans.
(Joan Furey is the Jr. Vice Commander of Sayville's VFW Post 433.)