On Thursday, Sept. 15, the three newly-elected New York State department heads – American Legion Commander, David R. Riley, Sr.; American Legion Auxiliary President, Nancy J. Babis; as well as Sons of the American Legion Detachment Commander, Timothy Van Patten II – visited Nassau County, and were greeted by current Nassau County American Legion Commander, Joseph M. Scarola, and Nassau County American Legion Auxiliary President, Andrea Manfredonia.
Several members of the American Legion Family from various posts (Baldwin, Elmont, Hempstead, Malverne, Massapequa, Rockville Centre, Seaford, and Williston Park) joined them for breakfast at the Majestic Diner in Westbury.
The Department of New York visitors were then led via escort by the Elmont American Legion Riders to the Cradle of Aviation Museum where they experienced a thorough tour by a passionate tour-guide. This was followed by an informative tour of the Nassau County Firefighters Museum & Education Center in Uniondale.
The guests continued to be impressed with the next leg of the escort which brought them to the Nassau County Veterans Memorial, Field 6A, at Eisenhower Park, which serves as a tribute to the heroes of Nassau County, and dedicated to the bravery of two groups of Nassau County residents – deceased veterans of all wars as well as county firefighters who lost their lives in the line of duty on 9/11.
In 1947, the park dedicated a memorial to those who died in World War II, and the Veterans Memorial plaza has been growing ever since.
The visitors got to see the individual monuments honoring Purple Heart and Medal of Honor recipients, Merchant Marines, veterans of World War II, the Korean War, POWs, MIAs, as well as September 11 Memorial, and Agent Orange Awareness, to name a few.
In 1971, the county constructed the Veterans Tower dedicated to Nassau County veterans of the Civil War, Spanish-American War, World Wars I and II, Korean and Vietnam Wars.
In 2015, a monument was added in honor of the Nassau County American Legion Auxiliary. The ‘Avenue of Flags’ represents active veteran organizations in Nassau County, and thousands of names appear on the ever-growing Walls of Honor, which honor all veterans who served, living or deceased. In addition, the visitors availed themselves of the Veteran’s Museum located inside the Veteran’s Tower, which houses timely donated artifacts.
The state guests were then welcomed at a “Nassau County American Legion Family Testimonial Dinner and Dance” at Edwin Welch, Jr. American Legion Post 1132 in Seaford, where they were joined by a large turnout of membership from American Legion, American Legion Auxiliary, Sons of the American Legion, and American Legion Riders for a ceremonial dinner in their honor.
The American Legion (as of April 2022), as well as the American Legion Auxiliary (as of November, 2022), are celebrating their 103rd Anniversary.
In August, 2019, membership in the American Legion has been extended to include all honorably-discharged veterans who have served during any period since Dec. 7, 1941. This closes the gaps in eligibility. Prior to this change, membership was contingent upon service during specific time periods. This amendment to the Legion’s Congressional charter allows for increased membership due to broader eligibility.
In addition, as of August 2019, membership in the American Legion Auxiliary, which up to that time had been an all-female organization, has been extended to include all spouses (female or male) of U.S. veterans and service members who meet the American Legion eligibility requirements, i.e. married to an American Legion member. This amendment makes the American Legion Auxiliary the largest and most inclusive volunteer organization supporting veterans, and children and youth.
With these improvements in eligibility rules, those interested in joining either the American Legion or American Legion Auxiliary should contact their nearest or and American Legion Post for information.
Rosanne Spinner is the public relations chairperson for American Legion Auxiliary, Nassau County Committee.