Tag Archive | "Memorial Day"

Remembering the Sag Harbor Spirit on Memorial Day

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Larry Burns and Jim Eberhardt salute during the playing of the National Anthem during the 2015 Memorial Day celebration in Sag Harbor on Monday. Photography by Michael Heller. 

By Mara Certic

Main Street was peppered with red, white and blue on Monday morning, when Sag Harborites donning stars and stripes took to the sidewalks to applaud the marching veterans, firefighters and scouts in this year’s Memorial Day parade.

Hundreds of East Enders gathered along Main Street on Monday morning, from Otter Pond all the way down to Bay Street, to watch the parade of servicemen and women honoring the nation’s war dead.

“Memorial Day is a day set aside to honor all those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. It was not meant to be the unofficial start of summer, or a day for car companies or big stores to have sales to make money,” said Harry “Hap” Wills, an army veteran and the commander of the Sag Harbor Veterans of Foreign War Post 9082, on Monday morning at Marine Park.

“It’s a day to take time to remember those who have died so we can live our lives with the freedoms we so often take for granted,” he said.

The parade, which included veterans from World War II, Korea, Vietnam and Iraq, began with military precision at 9 a.m. at the World War I Memorial near Otter Pond. Families sat on their porches, and found space to perch on curbs, waving little American flags and applauding the servicemen who paraded past. The Sag Harbor Community band provided the soundtrack for the parade on Main Street, and played a medley of Great American classics in Marine Park.

Marty Knab, commander of the Sag Harbor American Legion Chelberg & Battle Post, acknowledged the veterans, Gold Star families, elected officials and active servicemen in Marine Park, and honored those who have died, before the group was led in the National Anthem by a group of Pierson High School students.

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Dan Mulvihill speaking on Monday morning.

Dan Mulvihill III, this year’s guest speaker, is an army veteran who served in Korea during the Vietnam War. A 1961 graduate of Pierson High School, Mr. Mulvihill has been marching in the village’s parade for so many years, he said, that as a young man he marched with veterans of World War I.

“And two of my friends who are here today—Ed Early and Chuck Lattanzio—are so old that as young men they marched with veterans of the Civil War,” he joked.

A Sag Harbor native with a family history of military service, Mr. Mulvihill took a different approach to his speech and focused on the village’s native exceptionalism.

“The Sag Harbor story is an exceptional story of energy, challenge, that cardinal American virtue of can-do resourcefulness and patriotism. It is a story of a town not overtaken by events, but a proactive town which created history,” he said.

Mr. Mulvihill, speaking in Marine Park to a large audience, noted the different monuments along the parade route, where wreaths were lain, Taps was played and rifles saluted the fallen.

“We started at the World War I monument, then moved to the Civil War statue, honored fire department veterans, and stopped at the bridge now named for the valiant Jordan Haerter,” Mr. Mulvihill said.

“It was, as Lincoln said at Gettysberg, altogether fitting and proper that we do this. But I would now ask you to think of two other Sag Harbor monuments which we also paraded past today. Two monuments, which I think reflect Sag Harbor’s exceptional energy and willingness to take on any challenge,” he said

Those two buildings that Mr. Mulvihill was referring to are the Customs House and the Whaling Museum. Sag Harbor’s rich history as a whaling village and very busy port, he said “was no accident.”

Mr. Mulvihill spoke about some of extraordinary feats accomplished by non-military men of Sag Harbor, including the 1848 excursion of the whaling ship Superior into the Arctic Ocean, which was the first time a whaling vessel had explored those waters. Another Sag Harbor boat, The Manhattan, became the first whaling ship in Japanese waters, whose first mate was Jacob Havens (“What a wonderful Sag Harbor name,” Mr. Mulvihill said.)

Following the height of the whaling industry, came the Civil War. “Again, I don’t think it was an accident that Sag Harbor’s participation was early and enthusiastic,” he said. “When you’ve hunted for whales in the Arctic Ocean, I don’t think you’re going to be intimidated by a bunch of guys from Dixie who want to tear your country apart.”

He continued to discuss the village’s involvement in different wars, adding “No great battleground has been ignored by this town.”

“It takes my breath away to march down Main Street before a large and enthusiastic crowd. Exceptional. And the story will continue. We are a town of great adventurous spirit, of people ready to meet any challenge, of people of unstinting patriotism. A town of energy, and endeavor. We plied the oceans of commerce in the 18th century, hunted for whales in the Pacific in the 19th, and have always poured similar energy and spirit into whatever our country’s military has asked,” Mr. Mulvihill said.

“It is your participation that helps to make Memorial Day in Sag Harbor truly exceptional,” he said to the amassed crowd. “And as my aunt, Dolores Zebrowski, would say if she were here, God bless you.”

Dan Mulvihill III

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Dan Mulvihill

Dan Mulvihill III, an Army veteran and native of Sag Harbor, will be the guest speaker at this year’s Memorial Day services. He spoke about his experience in the military, and how it shaped his life.

When did you serve in the military?

I was in the Army and I served during the Vietnam War, but I was fortunate enough to go to Korea instead of going to Vietnam. I was a lieutenant, and I went to the infantry school in Fort Benning, Georgia. And then I went to Korea in 1966 and served with the 7th Infantry Division, and I was a troop leader there for most of my time in Korea, which was a little over a year. I got the Army Commendation Medal, and then I came back to the States and I ran a training company in Fort Dix, so I was in for two years. I come from a family with a long tradition of military service. My great-grandfather served in the Civil War, and my grandfather was a career naval officer and I have three uncles—two from Sag Harbor—who were all combat veterans of World War II. So I think I was just continuing the military tradition, which I guess is one of the reasons I’m speaking on Memorial Day. And I’ve marched in this Memorial Day parade for more years than I’d like to admit.

Are you ready for your speech on Monday?

I am, and I’m going to be doing something a little bit different with it. Traditionally, everybody on Memorial Day says “We’re here today because of those who gave their lives and now we enjoy the freedoms,” and that’s a good point and I support that point. But I wanted to do something a little bit different, and I decided I’m going to talk about Sag Harbor exceptionalism. I think that it’s interesting to look at the history of Sag Harbor, which for a long time has been a leader. I think that you can make the case the people of Sag Harbor have never been overtaken by events, they’ve been proactive and have created things. And they have always had a view larger than just Eastern Long Island and thus they met the challenge of world wars, of the Civil War, et cetera. And I don’t know how valid that point is, trying to connect everything, but I thought it would be kind of fun to give it a shot.

And now you split your time between Bridgehampton and Manhattan?

After the Army I went to graduate school, I got an MBA and I had a career on Wall Street for almost 40 years and I retired in 2006. I have a home here in Bridgehampton and I spend a good part of the year out here—I’m a hands-on homeowner. I do my yard work, I run, play golf, and I love to spend time in the woods out here. I grew up on my grandparents’ home in Sag Harbor, which is now the Mulvihill Preserve. I grew up on that, I guess it’s kind of in my blood, I’ve been wandering around the woods out here since I was 3 years old. And when I’m not in Bridgehampton or in the city, I spend a lot of my time hiking and mountain climbing. That’s my real passion, what I really plan my year around.

How do you think your time in the military shaped you?

Most of my time in the Army was as a troop leader. And I think the thing I really learned was that you have to listen to people and learn from people. I went to college, I did ROTC, then I went to infantry school for 9 weeks, they send me to Korea, and now I’m a platoon leader and I have 40 people who are looking to me for leadership and guidance. Later on, I became a company commander and I had four platoons that reported to me—that’s 160 men—but fortunately, I had a first Sergeant, Sgt. Smith, and he had been in the army for 20 years. His experience was invaluable. I really learned that most people have some sort of expertise they want to pass along. That’s one of the big things I learned. I also had a battalion commander who was really good; he had a bunch of us who were new, and he knew he had to train us to be leaders. He used to say, and I’ll never forget the expression, “Respect the dignity of the individual.” I think that’s a good lesson to learn in life, whether you’re dealing with a peer or a subordinate, you have to show respect. I can still see him now, chomping on his cigar, saying “Respect the dignity of the individual.”

 

Local Heroes

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Every year, as the Memorial Day parade marches by our office, we’re struck by the fading number of World War II veterans among the ranks. It never fails to produce a lump in our throats. The strong men and women of our parents’ generation who we remember seeing just yesterday on the streets of Sag Harbor are stooped a bit more, marching a little slower with each passing year, or riding in convertibles because they can no longer walk the route. And each year, there are more of Sag Harbor’s soldiers missing as roughly 1,000 W.W.II veterans die every day across the country.

As this generation recedes into history, we also see a loss of innocence in the way in which this nation has long understood war and its warriors. Notions of right vs. wrong and good vs. evil are continually blurred on the new battlefield. The idea that you once could identify an enemy by the uniform he wore or the border he crossed seems almost old-fashioned by today’s military standards.

The complications of modern warfare make it extremely difficult to view conflicts in the simple terms that defined the big wars of the early 20th century. In both Afghanistan and Iraq, tribal loyalties, roadside bombs, indefinable borders and a shifting suicidal enemy who operates in disguise amongst civilians or even within our own ranks has redefined and complicated the battlefield.

But this is the nature of warfare in the 21st century. And we need to remember that its by-products are being heaped upon a new generation of veterans who are coming back from the wars with terrible physical injuries or post traumatic stress disorder on a scale we’ve never witnessed before. It’s a new kind of warfare and one we don’t completely yet understand. So some might find it’s easier just to tune out, sitting, as we are, thousands of miles away from the action.

But we can’t afford to tune out this country’s newest veterans and those servicemen and women who are still deeply involved in these conflicts overseas. And we certainly can’t tune out those who have given their lives. War weary though we may be, it’s important that Memorial Day continue to be about more than burgers on the grill and an extra day off. And here’s why — as of Tuesday, the Department of Defense has identified 4,390 American service members who have died since the start of the Iraq war and 1,069 who have died as a part of the Afghan war and related operations. So on Monday, let’s all remind veterans and the families of those who never came home that even if theirs is a war we don’t fully understand, their sacrifice is something we surely do.

Memorial Day Sag Harbor 2009

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Celebrating Memorial Day in Sag Harbor

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By Andrew Rudansky

The air remained uncharacteristically still at Marine Park this Monday as several hundred people converged around the World War II monument in silence. 

The Memorial Day Parade procession that strode down Main Street and made its way down Bay Street had arrived at the park for the final ceremony. In past years the parade usually terminates in front of the American Legion headquarters on Bay Street, however this year the route was cut short, ending instead on the more spacious and picturesque grounds of Marine Park.

That wasn’t the only change to the Memorial Day Parade this year, a fourth stop was added to the parade route at the recently renamed Lance Corporal Jordan C. Haerter Veterans Memorial Bridge. 

At the bridge, wreaths were placed near the obelisk memorial of Lance Corporal Jordan C. Haerter where the firing squad offered a salute.

Local veteran Bruce Winchell said of the parade, “we try to touch all basis, I think we did pretty much our jobs today…it came out quite well.”

 

Veterans from five wars and several different conflicts stood and sat solemnly as the procession of speeches was given under a massive flag flying at half mast. 

Each veteran was dressed in his or her own military uniforms creating a patchwork of white, blue, green and black garb. The Sag Harbor Volunteer Fire Fighters showed up in force all sporting their sharp blue uniforms.

One veteran said, “It was very inspiring, brought me back to the days when I was in Vietnam, to see all the veterans standing around, it was very, very heart throbbing.”

Other community organizations that showed up to honor the veterans included the local Boy and Girl Scout troops, the Pierson school band and several local politicians.   

Gold Star mothers JoAnn Lyles, mother of Lance Corporal Jordan Haerter, and Nicolasa Arevalo, mother of SPC Orlando A. Perez, sat somberly in the front row for the ceremony. Arevalo cradled a framed picture of her son in her arms. The two Gold Star Mothers were mentioned several times throughout the speeches that lasted a little more than an hour.  

Orators extolled the volunteer emergency organizations, the veterans in attendance and the brave men and women who lost their lives serving their country.

A roll call of the recently deceased was read aloud, a short prayer led by the American Legion Chaplain followed this.

The Chaplain asked the people in attendance to, “honor the memories of those brave soldiers, sailors, marines, marine merchants, airmen who gave us the supreme sacrifice, so we may experience freedom in a country that is free.”

One of the speakers this Memorial Day reminded the crowd that today was not just a day for veterans, “There are five other young men from Sag Harbor serving in the armed forces at this time.”

After the speeches ended and the service was over the throngs of spectators and parade participants filtered out of the park and into the 70-degree heat of the day.

Winchell wanted to emphasize that the day is meant to honor the departed, “it’s not a veterans day, today is the day for the men who gave their lives.”

 

 

 

George Boziwick

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The World War II Navy man and this year’s Memorial Day guest speaker, on the work of veterans organizations, the meaning of the day and remembering our veterans.

A little background. When and where did you serve during World War II?

I joined the Navy in 1940 and went to radio school in Noroton, Connecticut. I served in Panama with the Navy from July 1941 to December 1944, and then came back to the states and served as a radio technician at NAMU Johnsville, Penn. I was discharged in September 1945. I was at Naval Air Station Cocosolo in the canal zone where I was an Aviation Radio Technician 1st Class, in charge of communications, on the base itself, and taking care of aircraft coming in.

 

What will you be speaking about on Monday?

I’ll be speaking about Memorial Day, just about Memorial Day. Its beginnings and what we’re supposed to be doing.

 

Memorial Day recognizes the sacrifices — especially the ultimate sacrifice — made by our service men and women. What should Memorial Day mean to the people you will be speaking to?

It’s a day of memory and  mourning. We should be visiting the graves of not only the heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice, but also all those who served during the war periods.

 

You were involved last year in helping to get the new plaque that lists all the Sag Harbor veterans from World War II for the memorial at Marine Park. How important was that for you to accomplish?

It was most important that all these people be recognized because of their desire to serve their country. It took us about a year-and-a-half to get all 446 names for the plaque.

 

Every year there are fewer World War II veterans with us.

That’s for sure.

 

What’s the best way to keep the memory of their contributions alive?

Pray for them, visit their graves.

 

How have you seen the nature of conflicts change since the time you served?

I think they’ve changed more technically than anything else. World War II was the infancy of radar and LORAN. Today we’ve got guided missiles, and unmanned, drone aircraft.

 

The ceremony on Memorial Day is sponsored by the Sag Harbor Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion. How can our military service organizations best serve their membership?

We do serve our members if they become ill, or needy. And, speaking for the Legion, we do a great deal with donations and scholarships. We sponsor six scholarships at Pierson every year at graduation, totaling 14,500. Of course we donate to the food pantry and other organizations like the Wounded Warrior Project and the Cub Scouts. This year we’ll be sponsoring two boys to Boy’s State.

 

What does Memorial Day mean to you?

It means a day of remembering the guys and girls of Sag Harbor who served in WW II.