The weather may have been intermittently overcast, but the pride radiating off the crowd attending the 26th Annual Armed Forces Day ceremony held in the Village of South Floral Park steadily shone through during the hour-and-a-half event.
Set up on the street outside the village hall/firehouse building at 383 Roquette Ave., this longtime tradition attracted residents of all ages, along with community leaders, veterans and local political dignitaries. Among those in attendance were Village of South Floral Park Mayor Geoffrey Prime, leaders of the South Floral Park United Methodist Church, a significant number of members from the American Legion Elmont Post 1033, and Floral Park Fire Department volunteers. Numerous representatives were in attendance including Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos, Hempstead Town Clerk Nasrin Ahmad, Legislator Carrie Solagés, Assemblywoman Michaelle Solages, Councilman Ed Ambrosino and Stewart Manor Mayor Gerard Tangredi.
With the Sewanhaka Central High School band led by Chris Doherty providing a soundtrack of patriotic songs including “Anchors Aweigh,” other highlights of the event included Sandra Morilus’ stellar rendition of the “Star Spangled Banner,” the presentation of a citation to Prime from Paul Vista of the Nassau County Veterans Service on behalf of Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano and the laying down of a memorial wreath by Yvonne Kennedy and William Garnett.
The highlight was keynote speaker and Army veteran Sylinthia Burges, whose tours of duty found her serving at Camp Casey, South Korea and Fort Hood, TX. With her military background including her being the daughter of a Vietnam veteran and wife of an active duty Army Airborne Iraq veteran, Burges was quite the appropriate choice. While the mother of two left the armed services to raise her children, she has remained involved with the military. She is the founder of Women in the Military Inc. and an active contributor to Veterans Affairs in Nassau County and the PFC Joseph Dwyer/Vet2Vet programs.
In sharing her concerns about the ignorance most American citizens might have about the role of the military and the sacrifices they make and her continued commitment to veterans causes, Burges neatly summed up what this sturdy and most laudable of South Floral Park traditions is about.
“This is not a Memorial Day celebration, remembering our fallen and the history of war. Nor is it a Veterans Day celebration, honoring those who served in our military forces,” she said. “This is the day we pay tribute to our armed forces, both men and women, who are currently serving in our armed forces. And it’s an honor and privilege to be here with you today.”