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Simple, poignant ceremonies for an Island Veterans Day

BEVERLEA WALZ PHOTO Howard Jackson's Purple Heart, awarded for wounds in action in World War II.

BEVERLEA WALZ PHOTO Howard Jackson’s Purple Heart, awarded for wounds in action in World War II.

In the crowd Friday morning around the flagpole of American Legion Post #281 in the Center was a line of youngsters, each holding a section of a folded flag, passing it along to legion Commander Dave Clark who stood at the base.

As soon as Commander Clark started to hoist the Stars and Stripes it filled out, standing straight in the bright, windy day. Twenty-two veterans of all ages in a semicircle in front of the hall saluted as the flag rose up against the cloudless blue sky.

BEVERLEA WALZ PHOTO Boys and girls help Commander Dave Clark of American Legion Post 281 raise the flag Friday morning.

BEVERLEA WALZ PHOTO Boys and girls help Commander Dave Clark of American Legion Post 281 raise the flag Friday morning.

More than 100 people who had gathered around tilted their heads skyward.

The Shelter Island Veterans Day ceremonies had started with a breakfast in the hall.

BEVERLEA WALZ PHOTO Scouts at the Veterans Day breakfast, from left, JoseFrausto, Michael Kotula, Jonathan Rivera and Alfie Brigham.

BEVERLEA WALZ PHOTO Scouts at the Veterans Day breakfast, from left, JoseFrausto, Michael Kotula, Jonathan Rivera and Alfie Brigham.

Then, at about 10 a.m. residents assembled outside to hear remarks on the meaning of the day.

Linda Bonaccorso sang the National Anthem, her clear voice ringing through the quiet autumn morning.

Father Peter DeSanctis gave an invocation and read a roll call of Island vets who have passed away since Veterans Day 2015:
• George Benjamin
•Harry Bodnar
• Matt Bonora
• Donald Hall
• Marcello Loriz
• Donald McCarthy
• Paul Speeches
• Leon Stroble
• Charles Wissemann

Howard Jackson, a veteran of World War II, spoke about vets coming from “all walks of life and all parts of the country,” but are unified, quoting Shakespeare: “We few, we happy few, we band of brothers …”

BEVERLEA WALZ PHOTO Howard Jackson

BEVERLEA WALZ PHOTO Howard Jackson

Mr. Jackson then spoke about the trauma some veterans have known, and that “experiences must be shared,” especially with children. “Some of us come home broken,” Mr. Jackson added, noting that there are 20,000 homeless veterans and the suicide rate among veterans is 20 a day.

Pausing before he continued, the bells of the Presbyterian Church could be heard chiming the quarter hour through the silence. “Veterans need your help,” Mr. Jackson said.

BEVERLEA WALZ PHOTO 'God Bless America.'

BEVERLEA WALZ PHOTO ‘God Bless America.’

Seven girls from the school choir sang “God Bless America,” joined in by the gathering, before Father DeSanctis offered a closing prayer.

He asked those assembled to pray “for an end of strife and the beginning of enduring peace.”

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