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Neighbor to Neighbor: ‘Patriot’ is much more than just a simple word

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With three patriotic holidays falling so near each other on the calendar — Memorial Day, Flag Day, and Independence Day — I thought it might be a good idea to research the exact definition of the word...

By Barbara Morris

Words and their meanings have always interested me.

With three patriotic holidays falling so near each other on the calendar — Memorial Day, Flag Day, and Independence Day — I thought it might be a good idea to research the exact definition of the word “patriot.” I am happy to say that there are many people hare who fulfill the following requirements: “a person who remains loyal to his country when it is occupied by an enemy.”

During World War II, an Honor Roll was erected on Francis Lewis Boulevard just north of Merrick Boulevard, on which names of those called into the military in defense of our country were listed. A gold star was placed next to the name of a person killed in action.

One such young man lived on our street. He lived with his mother, father and big, friendly Boxer dog on the first block off Merrick Boulevard. On summer evenings his parents would sit on the steps in front of their neat home, watching their son and his dog playing ball together. I’d stop and chat, and then be on my way.

When he was killed, everyone mourned, but that was not the end of the tragedy. Mrs. Helmuth, his mother, died a short time later (I was told, of a broken heart, as did their dog). One day, the Gold Star flag that had hung in the window, disappeared. Mr. Helmuth had moved away. New people moved in, and we never found out any more about Mr. Helmuth.

The Korean War claimed the life of a close personal friend of mine. He had joined the ROTC at the University of Connecticut because he was convinced that if he joined the military, he could retire early after serving our country, and then go into business for himself. Like so many others with dreams and plans, his were not to be fulfilled. My last letter to him was returned, unopened, stamped on the envelope, “DECEASED.”

I was sure it must have been a mistake. I called his family and they told me it was true. He had been killed, along with many others, in battle.

On Sunrise Highway at Francis Lewis Boulevard, the big monument there was erected in 1962. That was, incidentally, the year that the president of The Cornucopia Society and The Rosedale Civic Association was born. Although he was not called to serve in the military, he has always tried to inspire patriotism. As a member of Boy Scouts of America Troop 341 out of St. Clare’s Roman Catholic Church in Rosedale, that young fellow, Fred Kress, earned Eagle Scout for the work he helped to do during the renovation and renewal of Veterans’ Square in 1976. That same year — the bicentennial of this country — the old, wooden flagpole that had been the mast of an old ship, was replaced with an aluminum utility pole that had been converted into a flag pole.

The Vietnam Memorial Square, across the street from Veterans’ Square, on South Conduit, was the first in New York State, and possibly the first in our country.

Fred's determination to honor those who have served this country, especially those whose lives were sacrificed, has never diminished. He has enlisted a loyal group of volunteers and the Department or Parks and Recreation to continue to show respect for those who served, by planting, upgrading and maintaining the entire area. Another monument, to honor Korean War veterans, is being planned as well.

I feel privileged to know many people who have given so much for this country whether overseas or here at home. I am most grateful for the freedoms and bounty we have. It makes me feel good when newcomers join us in respecting those who have made it all possible.

EVERYONE should be that way.

Posted 7:07 pm, October 10, 2011
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Reader feedback

Debra Stewart from Rosedale says:
I was wondering if there was available, a list of names of those who served or a clear picture with all of the names that are on the Vietnam Memorial Square across the street from Veteran's Square. If so, can you contact me through my email at ptstjohngirl1@gmail.com.

Thank you.
Nov. 10, 2014, 6:38 pm

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