The Glen Cove community came together to honor those who have served our country in a special Veterans Day ceremony held in front of the Doughboy Monument next to the Glen Cove Library on Friday, Nov. 11. In addition to the local veterans, the ceremony was attended by residents and elected officials expressing gratitude for the sacrifices made by these men and women. Special recognition was given to Willibe Wilson, this year’s honoree.
“Whether they served in war or peace, America’s veterans all share a common bond: their unwavering belief in the cause of freedom, a belief so strong they were willing to give their lives, if need be, to its defense,” said Joseph Lavery, commander of the VFW James Donohue Post 347.
Lavery gave some history of the holiday, which marks the anniversary of end of World War I. On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, an armistice between Germany and the allied nations came into effect. In 1938, the day became an official holiday known as Armistice Day, and in June 1954, the name was changed to Veterans Day.
“The legacy of America’s veterans is a proud and horrible one. No matter where or when they served, our nation’s armed forces acted honorably and decently, liberating countries from the hands of brutal dictators. Not every veteran has seen combat, of course, but even in peace time they face dangers that most other Americans will never know,” said Lavery.
He said all veterans share one thing in common: their love of their nation.
“It is true America is strong and free, but we never would have come this far without the heroes we call our veterans,” said Lavery.
He called on people to remember and appreciate the nation’s veterans before introducing Mayor Reginald Spinello.
“In quiet solitude, there’s a single thread that binds all veterans; it is an immense pride about being part of something larger than themselves,” said Spinello. “It is the knowledge of having done much more than most ever do…[that they] served a real purpose by being there.”
Spinello then acknowledged Wilson, this year’s honoree.
“He’s a family man and an individual who proudly served in the United States Army,” said Spinello.
Wilson was drafted into the Army in 1950, during the Korean conflict. He was stationed in Alabama before being deployed oversees to Germany. During his U.S. Army service, Wilson held the positions of Gun Section Chief and Artillery Commander. Upon his return to Glen Cove, Wilson became an active leader in the Long Island and Queens veteran community. He has served as the county and district commander of Young-Simmons American Legion Post 1765, a distinguished committee member of the Glen Cove Memorial Day Parade and was recently honored during Glen Cove’s 2016 Senior Recognition Day.
“I am extremely honored to be chosen as this year’s Veterans Day honoree for the City of Glen Cove,” said Wilson. “I accept the honor for all of our veterans, especially those who made the ultimate the sacrifice. I thank all of you for remembering all our service men and women and continue to support them in their path.”
Wilson received citations on behalf of Assemblyman Charles Lavine and Leg. Delia DeRiggi-Whitton.
“We couldn’t have a finer representative of our veterans community than Mr. Wilson,” said Lavine. “He is all about community…and has fought all of his life for his community.”
Tony Jimenez presented the citation to Wilson on behalf of DeRiggi-Whitton’s office.
“I present this to a guy who believes in God, country and community and I love you for what you do,” said Jimenez.
The mayor then asked residents to support veterans by participating in the Greenlight a Vet movement.
“This program seeks to establish national and visible support for our veterans by changing one light in your home to green,” said Spinello. “The color green symbolizes hope, renewal, well-being and forward motion. The simple gesture of changing one light to green creates a beacon of support and appreciation.”
Green light bulbs were distributed by the mayor’s office after the ceremony.