Written by Margaret Whitely Friday, 20 November 2009 00:00
The New Hyde Park Village always remembers its veterans on Veterans Day by holding a very solemn and impressive ceremony on the grounds of the village, corner of New Hyde Park Road and Jericho Turnpike.
This year, as has been in the past New Hyde Park Village Mayor Daniel Petruccio gave the keynote address.
“On this the 11th day of the 11th month at the 11th hour we take the time to honor our veterans. Those brave men and women who have answered the call and come to the defense of freedom and liberty wherever it is threatened. From the first volleys of the Revolutionary War to the fire fights and skirmishes going on at this moment in Afghanistan and Iraq we are compelled to recognize the true American heroes. The quality that is consistently found in all heroes is courage. The dictionary describes courage as the ability to face danger, difficulty, uncertainty, or pain without being overcome by fear or being deflected from a chosen course of action.
“Those that we honor today embody this quality. But what makes these honorees distinct is the fact that we also acknowledge their citizenship. They are no ordinary heroes. They are American heroes. In a speech entitled What Constitutes an American? Given in New York in 1941 FDR’s Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes gave a great description of what it means to be an American.
“What constitutes an American? Not color nor race nor religion. Not the pedigree of his family nor the place of his birth. Not the coincidence of his citizenship. Not his social status nor his bank account. Not his trade nor his profession. An American is one who loves justice and believes in the dignity of man. An American is one who will fight for his freedom and that of his neighbor. An American is one who will sacrifice property, ease and security in order that he and his children may retain the fights of free men. An American is one in whose heart is engraved the immortal second sentence of the Declaration of Independence.
“Americans have always known how to fight for their rights and their way of life. Americans are not afraid to fight. They fight joyously in a just cause. We Americans know that freedom, like peace, is indivisible. We cannot retain our liberty if three-fourths of the world is enslaved. Brutality, injustice and slavery, if practiced as dictators would have them, universally and systematically, in the long run would destroy us as surely as a fire raging in our nearby neighbor’s house would burn ours if we didn’t help to put out his.
“The American heroes that we honor today have faced difficulty, danger and pain and have in the spirit of freedom and liberty fought for our own defense but also have come to the aid of our neighbors, allies and friends in their greatest hour of need and for this the citizens of this country and citizens of every nation that has benefited from their efforts should pause to honor their tremendous courage and sacrifice. For all of those who are unable to do so I say on behalf of them, thank you.”