“Our gathering is just one small spark in the flame of pride that runs across the nation everyday,” Village of Cedarhurst trustee Ari Brown said. “It’s not a lot but its one small way to honor those who’ve made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms.”
On the 100th anniversary of Veterans Day, the village hosted an event to honor those who have served in combat, including eight members of American Legion Lawrence-Cedarhurst Post 339, in Village Hall on Nov. 11. Post 339 commander Syd Mandelbaum, who is Vietnam War veteran, led the ceremony. “We know how easy it is to forget about veterans,” he said. “But we must never forget the sacrifices they made.”
A blended effort from Post 339 and Cedarhurst-based poverty think tank Rock and Wrap It Up! created the Andrew Parise Veterans Toolkit app that was named after the former longtime Cedarhurst mayor. The app’s primary function is to help veterans and their families find veteran-friendly colleges, employers and places to live.
“If we don’t support our veterans, then we are to be shamed,” Mandelbaum said. “With that being said, I think that in the past four to five years, we’ve been on top of our game when it comes to helping our veterans.”
The event not only honored living veterans, but the village also recognized veterans that died. One of the main honorees was United States Army Korean War veteran Harry Beltrani, who died in July 2019 at the age of 88. Beltrani was a member of Post 339 and his son, Harry Beltrani Jr., spoke about his dad’s love for military veterans. “My father spent his life as a devoted veteran,” Beltrani Jr. said. “He had an open heart who supported his family and his fellow veterans. He was my biggest mentor.”
Post 339 Vice Commander Al Landi illustrated Beltrani’s generosity for veterans. “Harry hosted a disabled veterans night for over 20 years,” Landi said. “It gave those disabled vets a night that made them feel great.”
The two other deceased veterans honored were Betty and Robert Blakeman, the parents of Town of Hempstead Councilman Bruce Blakeman. Mandelbaum noted that Blakeman was supposed to attend the event, but was invited to meet with President Donald Trump at the Veterans Day Parade in Manhattan.
Veterans Day is observed on Nov. 11 and honors veterans who have served in the U.S. armed forces. It was once Armistice Day and marked the end of World War I. The day, date and exact time of 11:11 a.m. marked the end of World War I in 1919. It was renamed Veterans Day in 1954.
“I’d like to thank our veterans for answering the call to duty that has made our armed forces the most respected in the world,” Brown added. “Let us never forget the soldiers who starved through the winter of Valley Forge, fought the Nazis, fought in the jungles of Vietnam and now the young men and women fighting in the Middle East.”