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Hillcrest Vet Square gets new memorial

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"We do this in remembrance of those who didn't come home," Maher said.Next to the monument, a line of Corona youth cadets from New York Naval and Marine took turns placing items on a table meant to honor the fallen. There was a folded flag, a helmet, a bayonet, blank dog tags, a mess kit and a prayer book. A purple heart medal signified the "infliction wounds," Maher said. The wedge of lemon was for their bitter fate, the pile of salt - for the "countless fallen tears of their families."An elderly veteran from Legion Post 1078 played taps on his bugle."It is an honor and privilege to help to create this lasting memorial to the brave men and women who laid down their lives to preserve our freedom," said City Councilman James Gennaro (D-Fresh Meadows), who since taking office in 2002 had worked with Maher to secure a $150,000 grant to erect the monument and improve the grounds of the square, located at 162nd Street and Union Turnpike..Retired World War II Sgt. Herbert Rosen stood in the crowd, singing "God Bless America" with the others. Afterward, the 88-year-old German-born Jew told his story of escaping Berlin in November 1938 after his father was sent to a concentration camp. He fled to Holland, then England and finally the United States. By March 1941, he was made an American citizen through an act of Congress and was wearing the country's uniform. For the next 3 1/2 years, he traveled with the First Army's First Division in Europe as an intelligence officer who spoke German, French and English, often witnessing war from behind enemy lines."I never believed I'd come back," Rosen said at the Hillcrest Memorial Day ceremony. "Survival over there was always a question of luck."On the back of a program handed out at the service that included the Pledge of Allegiance, military quotes and prayers of remembrance were written. Among them: "Poor is the nation that has no heroes...Shameful is the one that having them...forgets."Reach reporter Zach Patberg by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 155.

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