Fifty years ago, a group of Huntington women dedicated their time to serving soldiers serving in the Vietnam War. This month, Huntington Town celebrated these women, a memorial the women established and the veterans who served their country.
The city hosted a two-part memorial event for the 50th anniversary of its living memorial to local military personnel killed in the Vietnam War.
The morning saw hundreds of military personnel from multiple branches of the armed forces and wars pour into a ballroom at the Marriott Melville, where the Island Symphony Orchestra and operatic tenor Christopher Macchio performed.
In the afternoon, a small crowd gathered in the Village Green, where a wreath was displayed on the plaque commemorating the Huntington Vietnam War Memorial. The cherished site dates back to June 11, 1972, when the Huntington Women in Support of Our Men in Vietnam planted 49 Kwanzan cherry trees – one for each townsman who perished in the war – in the Village Green. The living memorial has been recognized as the first of its kind in the country.
Veterans Advisory Council Chairman William Ober, serving as emcee for the morning, introduced Lt. Gen. Frank Libutti, who discussed his combat experiences, while sharing stories about his ongoing communication with those he served and memories of fallen soldiers from his hometown of Huntington.
“Today’s 50th anniversary event and the memorial that will follow are most appropriate because in this community, here are all patriots,” Libutti said. “Let me speak to all the families here who have lost sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, etc. during the Vietnam War. There are no words I can give you at this time to ease the pain and grief you felt years ago and still feel today following the loss of a loved one. dear.
“But know this, we who have served and have returned will always hold them in a special place in our hearts as the most honorable men and women, true heroes who gave their all for our beloved country.” he added.
Huntington Women in support of our men in Vietnam
Linda Guido, one of the founding members of Huntington Women in Support of Our Men in Vietnam, was present at the celebration. She explained their mission more than five decades ago.
“In 1966, a woman named Joy Wellman, mother of seven children, teens and younger, was so disturbed by the treatment those serving in Vietnam were receiving that she placed an ad in the Huntington Penny Saver asking if there was any other women interested in forming a group of mothers, wives, sisters, etc. who would like to do something to show the young men of the town of Huntington that they have not been left behind at home,” said Guide.
This announcement resulted in the formation of the non-political Huntington Women in Support of Our Men in Vietnam. Guido said the group meets monthly at the YMCA, sends appeal letters to clubs and churches to gather support, and raises funds through bake sales, flea markets, dances and fundraisers. raffles.
“With these funds, each soldier received, at least twice a year, a five-pack of gifts containing clean socks, decks of cards, beef jerky, notepads, anything we could think of that would get there safely,” says Guido.
In addition to parcels and the memorial, the group serves ice cream sodas to wounded soldiers each month at Naval Hospital St. Albans, decorates a Christmas tree in the Walt Whitman Mall with photographs of service members, and performs other tasks to support their hometown heroes.
Separate the war from the warrior
Speaking from the podium that morning, Major General Anthony R. Kropp spoke about how rare people like the women’s group were during the Vietnam War.
“What a fantastic legacy they left for us,” Kropp said. “The vast majority of Americans could not distinguish or separate the war from the warrior. In fact, it was the opinion of this women’s organization that the millions of protesters should direct their efforts against the politicians who created this tragic war and not against the military who did their duty as ordered.
Addressing the Village Green crowd, the Major General admired the symbolism of Kwanzan’s cherry blossom poetics.
“It loses its blooms at its peak in the spring,” Kropp said. “Just like these 49 very young men sadly lost these lives in their prime.”
“Huntington has set an example not just in Long Island New York, but nationally, recognizing the selfless service of Vietnam veterans,” he added. “This is such an incredible tribute to the town of Huntington and such a remarkable company. All residents should be extremely proud of this.