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Huntington set to commemorate 50th anniversary of town’s Vietnam War memorial this summer

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The Town of Huntington has announced plans to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War memorial in the town’s Village Green later this spring.

Two events — both open to the public — will take place Saturday, June 11.

The first is a ballroom brunch at the Melville Marriott from 10 a.m. to noon, during which the Island Symphony Orchestra and renowned tenor Christopher Macchio will perform. The program includes U.S. Marine Corps Lt. General Ret. Frank Libutti, U.S. Army Major General Ret. Anthony R. Kropp and Msgr. Charles Fink, who penned the poem “Bury Me With Soldiers.”

Tickets for the ballroom event are $30 per person or $300 for a 10-seat table, payable in the form of a donation to the Huntington Human Services Institute, Inc.

The second event is free and will take place at the living Vietnam War memorial at the southwest corner of Park Avenue and Main Street. The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Band, Flotilla 22-01 Huntington, NY, will perform patriotic music as a commemorative wreath is laid.

Huntington Women in Support of Our Men in Vietnam

Original members of the Huntington Women in Support of Our Men in Vietnam, who created the memorial that was officially dedicated on June 11 1972, will attend the events. The group planted 49 Kwanzan cherry trees — one for every Huntington resident who perished in the war — and dedicated the Memorial in their honor. Washington, D.C., recognized the trees as the nation’s first living memorial to the Vietnam War.

“These trees were selected because the flowers fall from the tree at their bloom as did the men who died in their bloom, all in their 20s,” Carol Rocco, the Town of Huntington Veterans Affairs Coordinator, said.

Rocco said the women hosted cake sales, flea markets and other fundraising events to send packages filled with socks, canned food, candy, toiletries and local newspapers donated by their editors to the Huntington soldiers.

“It was not an easy task, because of differences of opinion of that war,” Rocco said of the group’s efforts. “The Huntington ladies took no position on the war. Their only concern and first priority was the welfare of the men from Huntington serving in Vietnam [and] to keep their morale boosted.”

The town issued a list of the 49 Huntington heroes recognized in the memorial in the hopes that their family members will participate in this summer’s event. Any relatives of the fallen heroes may contact Rocco by telephone 631.351.3012 or email her at CRocco@HuntingtonNY.gov

“This will be an historic occasion commemorating the unveiling, one half-century ago, of the nation’s first living memorial to the sacrifice of American servicemembers in Vietnam,” Huntington Town Supervisor Edmund Smyth said in a press release this week.

“We are honored to host our veterans, family members of the 49 heroes to which this monument is dedicated, and original members of the Huntington Women in Support of Our Men in Vietnam who donated this memorial to the town 50 years ago in 1972.”

Fundraising efforts

The town additionally announced plans to print a commemorative journal that will honor Huntington’s fallen heroes, as well as the Huntington Women in Support of Our Men in Vietnam.

The journal will be free to residents, but businesses and individuals may purchase pages to advertise or remember someone. All of sponsorship proceeds will benefit veterans, soldiers and their families in crisis, and to continue providing programs to honor and benefit veterans of all wars, according to the release.

Feature image: Facebook/Town of Huntington