Brooklyn could not wait for Monday to honor its veterans, as servicemen and school kids gathered across the borough late last week to hear tales of bravery and sacrifice and to reflect on the impact of American wars.
At Fort Hamilton, New York’s only active U.S. Army garrison, troops convened at the Post Theater on Nov. 7, in an event opened by Col. Eluyn Gines.
Speakers from each branch of the military followed the garrison commander, speaking about the roles their fellow service members played in conflicts from World War II to the ongoing war in Afghanistan.
Navyman and senior non-commissioned officer Rafael Perez spoke about the invisible war fought between American and German submarines beneath the waves of the North Atlantic during World War II — a struggle that has been largely unrecognized in popular culture, but was nonetheless critical for Allied victory in Europe.
Lt. Col. Michael Stinnett of the U.S. Army, a veteran of both Iraqi wars, spoke of about the army’s role in those conflicts, which have claimed the lives of more than 6,000 U.S. service members and an estimated half a million Iraqis.
The speakers were rounded out by Lt. Jeremy Maginot of the U.S. Coast Guard, who spoke of the role that the military has played in protecting America’s shores, and in particular, the role the Coast Guard has played in safeguarding New York from terrorist attacks.
Fort Hamilton typically holds Veterans Day events the week before the holiday to allow the service members some leisure time over a four-day weekend.
Nearby, Gravesend’s PS 216 returned to its tradition and held its annual Veterans Day celebration on Nov. 7 as well, after the school had been forced to cancel last year’s festivities in the wake of superstorm Sandy.
The event hosted dozens of veterans from various wars and opened with the children’s color guard parading before the crowd with a flag that was once draped over the casket of rescue workers who perished on Sept. 11.
The school’s band and chorus kept the vets entertained with a military medley and renditions of “Yankee Doodle Dandy.”
The celebration concluded with two soldiers from Fort Hamilton taking the stage to answer questions from the kids.