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Honoring Journalist Colvin

Television crews from channels 12, 5 and 11 came to the Plainview-Old Bethpage John F. Kennedy High School’s grand opening of its “Heroic Long Island” museum on Jan. 31.

They came to cover the story of one of their own, foreign correspondent Marie Colvin, with roots in Oyster Bay and East Norwich. The museum, located in the high school library honors legendary Long Island figures now including journalist Colvin, who was slain while covering the Syrian uprising in February 2012. Colvin’s mother, Marie, and sister, Cat, attended the opening.

“They were coming to cover the story of a fellow journalist,” said Rosemarie Colvin, Marie’s mother.

The exhibit is guided by economics teacher Nick Ventimiglia. His 10th grade students, the Hawks of History, use the first semester of the term to do research for the museum exhibit, and the second to mount the exhibit.. Ventimiglia teaches Long Island history through economics. His students recently did one on 200 years of Long Island classrooms. On view was an 1870s teachers register from the Town of Oyster Bay. Oyster Bay Town Clerk Steve Labriola did a presentation for them on town history. His office is in charge of the town archives.

Journalists Face Danger

Colvin was killed in an attack by Syrian soldiers, who bombed the building journalists were using as their headquarters in Homs, Syria. They were telling the story of the “uber” attacks on civilians by their own government: Syrians who were asking for freedom in an outgrowth of the Arab Spring movement.

Colvin’s death has been commemorated at ceremonies in London, where she lived when not on assignment for the Sunday Times. Earlier this year she received a Front Page Award presented by the Newswomen’s Club of New York.

Educating Students

Rosemarie Colvin said she was impressed by Ventimiglia, who came to her home twice to interview her and her daughter Cat, and to pick out items for the exhibit.

Ventimiglia said he was welcomed into family kitchens to hear the story of each family’s hero. He said students connect with this living history more than they do with what they see on TV and read in books. The display includes things people brought back from war, he explained.

Among the items is Marie’s “Go! Bag,” with the essentials: a gas mask, a helmet and a black beaded evening dress, size 14. She was tall and thin and would put it over her fatigues when she was interviewing leaders in the Middle East where women must be covered, head to foot. It was like Colvin that her gown was beaded and beautiful, said her mother.

The exhibit label designed by 12th-grader Dori Gronich says: “Colvin’s “Go! Bag.” Resourceful and ready, this carry bag was always packed for that dash for a meeting with a Middle Eastern leader, but when opened, its contents were deemed to be both curious and humorous. As shown here, the black sequent (sequined) evening gown would have been several sizes too big for the rather fit Colvin. It is believed that she would throw this gown over her existing clothing for that drop-of-a-hat meeting within the Islamic world. Also in the bag were a gas mask and the black helmet in the lower right portion of this showcase.

The case in the museum also has the black Burberry jacket she wore; a bronze statue of an eagle presented to the family by American Syrians in honor of Colvin’s work in telling their story. To the left of it is a Sunday Times of London bulletin board with telegrams and notes from colleagues just after the announcement of her death.

Also on exhibit is a book of her stories published in the Sunday Times. Titled On The Front Lines it was compiled by publisher Rupert Murdoch and is available online with profits going to the Marie Colvin Fund at LICF. Money from the foundation has been used for the new Marie Colvin Center for International Reporting as well as a local scholarship.

Cat Colvin said to the students and teachers at POB JFK, “This is such a wonderful tribute to my sister, my hero. One of the things she loved to do was helping younger people. It is important for us that she is helping teach new students.” Cat Colvin told the group about her sister’s newest honor, the new Marie Colvin Center for International Reporting that was to open the next week.

Stony Brook’s MCCIR

On Tuesday, Feb. 5 Stony Brook University held the opening reception for the Marie Colvin Center for International Reporting. Christine Amanapour gave the first lecture for the center that night, to a sell out performance in the Student Activities Center.

Rosemarie Colvin said at the reception earlier, they met people from the new center. “Christiane Amanpour gave $50,000 to the center in Marie’s name. I was bowled over. She kicked off the lecture series. It was all sold out and the venue was huge

“Christiane had a Q&A after she spoke and asked Cat to come up.

The head of the MCCIR, is Ilana Ozernoy, a friend of Marie. Ms. Ozernoy was a middle east reporter who knew Marie, added Rosemarie  Colvin. Also attending was a staff member of the Sunday Times of London as well as the paper’s reporter here.

So many journalism students were there. Are there jobs for them? Rosemarie Colvin wondered aloud.

“I was really impressed with Christiane’s gift, it was mind boggling,” Rosemarie Colvin said. She told of meeting Colvin in different places as they both covered the Middle East. She said recently The Times [of New York] has gotten some bad publicity because it refused to publish inexperienced free lancers going into war zones — when they are unpublished and inexperienced. The reason given was they feel that that person is in inordinate danger. The Times was criticized, with some saying  that decision verged on censorship.

“That was when Christiane Amanpour asked Cat [Marie’s sister] to come up to comment.” Rosemarie Colvin said the audience and Cat agreed that the decision was valid and Amanpour agreed.

More LI Heroes

The exhibit also includes tributes to local military heroes such as Medal of Honor recipient Michael P. Murphy of Smithtown. He was a  U.S. Navy Seal lieutenant who gave his life attempting to save his squad under heavy enemy fire during the Afghan War in 2005.

The exhibit will also honor local Silver Star and Purple Heart recipients and showcase the pivotal role that Long Island and its residents played during the American Revolution, including the capture of Benedict Arnold, and the story of George Washington’s Culper Spy Ring. Also attending was World War II veteran and Silver Star recipient John D’Amico, 90. His granddaughter said he always told the family stories of the war but never with the horrific tales he could have told them. The exhibit includes NYPD and NYFD first responders to the Twin Towers tragedy on Sept. 11, 2001.

You can support the Marie Colvin Fund by making a donation and/or by buying Marie’s book On The Front Lines from Amazon US. The address is: The Marie Colvin Fund at LICF, 1864 Muttontown Road, Syosset, N.Y. 11791.

News

On Saturday, July 5, Building J on the Western Waterfront was opened to the public for a free concert of classical music played by talented youth in the Oyster Bay Music Festival. The acoustics in the large metal shed were lively as the backdrop of the Ida May, a wooden oyster dredge under construction, lent artisanal flavor to the rich stew of mostly sea-related musical selections. People sat on stacks and benches of freshly milled wood or stood in the cavernous space. They soaked in beautiful solos, duets and trios that combined voice, piano, flute, cello and violin. Frank M Flower & Sons provided fresh oysters that engaged the palate, and representatives from Steinway & Sons gave a quick overview of how their pianos are made, relating several aspects of their meticulous process to the construction of the Ida May.

Last week was one of Oyster Bay’s biggest, most anticipated summer events, the Italian American Society’s St. Rocco’s Festival. Returning to its usually spot in Fireman’s Field on Shore Avenue, the festival was filled with amusement rides, live music, and great food and company.

“We come every year to St. Rocco’s with friends,” said Laura Regan of East Norwich. “The rides and awesome food make it a lot of fun.”


Sports

Oakcliff’s intensive training program provided a high level of competition last weekend at the U.S. Women’s Match Racing Championship in Oyster Bay.

This year, the teams selected for the event were highly ranked through the United States, and several of the competitors are past and current Oakcliff trainees, including Elizabeth Shaw, Kathryn Shiber, Madeline Gill, and Danielle Gallo.

A total of 11 members of St. Dominic Track Team (grades 1-8) recently medaled at the Nassau-Suffolk CYO Championship Finals at Mitchel Field. In the finals, the athletes competed against the finalists from all three regions, representing more than 2,500 athletes from 23 other parishes.

In addition to the student athletes’ success, the track coaches were honored as well. St. Dominic CYO Track coaches Phil Schade (grades 1-3), Julie and Mike Keffer (grades 4-6) and Rich Cameron (grades 7-8) were selected by peer coaches in their region for the NSCYO Team Sportsmanship Award. The Saint Dominic CYO track program, in its second year, has already proven to be a force to be reckoned with and the young runners are among the best on Long Island.


Calendar

OB Band Concerts

Wednesday, July 23

Music Under The Stars

Friday, July 25

Annual Chicken BBQ

Saturday, July 26



Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
Written by Mike Barry, MFBarry@optonline.net

Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com