Home: David Pharaoh, A Proud Veteran

David Pharaoh.
David Pharaoh.

By Nancy Remkus

“America was not built on fear. America was built on courage, on imagination and an unbeatable determination to do the job at hand.”

-Harry S Truman-

We live with a common and shared freedom carefully defended by our military. Sag Harbor’s courageous sons and daughters have been represented in every war since the American Revolution. Having served six years in the United States Army, David Pharaoh is currently the Commander of the Sag Harbor Chelberg & Battle Legion Auxiliary Post 388. He is also an important part of many facets of the Sag Harbor community.

The American Legion began during World War I when a group of officers who served in the American Expeditionary Forces in France were asked by Headquarters to suggest ideas on how to improve troop morale. Lieutenant Colonel Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. (the eldest son of the 26th President) proposed an organization of veterans. The American Legion was then chartered by Congress in 1919 as a patriotic, mutual-help wartime veterans’ organization. It has become a community-service organization and has grown to over 2.4 million members in 14,000 posts worldwide.

The Legion offers a place of unity and camaraderie for our veterans to gather, foster patriotism and work for the common good in our community. David Pharaoh, currently in his second term as the commander of the Legion, works tirelessly to help keep the organization moving forward. In their newly renovated space in the American Legion Building on Bay Street in Sag Harbor, the Legionaries come together monthly and continue their tradition of service and unity. “We do a lot of things and help a lot of people out,” David remarked about the Sag Harbor Legion. “We sponsor local scholarships, donate to local organizations such as the food pantry as well as to Veterans’ causes. The Legion organizes the Memorial Day parade and purchases and cares for many of the flags hung throughout the village.”

David Pharaoh was born in Queens, a direct descendant of Wyandanch and Stephen Talkhouse Pharaoh, his family part of the Montaukett Native American Indian tribe. David served in the Army from 1981 until 1987 and was stationed in Korea, Japan and California. “You never appreciate America until you leave America. When I was in Korea, conditions were very poor. There was no indoor plumbing. I still think of that every time I take a shower. You miss home but the service becomes your new home.” David’s father and brother served in the Navy.

David has worked for 29 years at Southampton Hospital and is currently the electronic billing coordinator there. Aside from being active at the Legion, David Pharaoh has worn many public servant hats over the years. When he is not busy with his family: wife Kathleen, daughter Mackenzie, and stepsons Darren and Stephen, David is busy working to make Sag Harbor a great place to call HOME.

David was a Sag Harbor School board member for three years; he was a member of the Saint Andrew’s Parish Council and along with Bob Schiavoni, John Kosinski, Bruce Bennett and Harold Locascio he helped to run the “Youth Hoop” basketball program for nearly twenty years. David loved working with the kids and their families. “It’s one of the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done,” remarks David, “I took a lot of kids to their first basketball game and sent kids to camps with scholarships.”

Sag Harbor is very much a part of David and his family. “It’s a lot of fun living here. You’re with people you’ve known your whole life. It’s a great place to raise kids; there’s no crime. I only have a fifteen minute drive to work.” Yet he worries that it is becoming increasingly difficult for people to afford to live here. Reflecting on Veteran’s Day, David said, “If I was ever the president, the first thing that I would do was to make sure that every veteran had Veteran’s Day off! A lot of us have to work that day.”

Living in Sag Harbor since the age of six, David has seen many changes. He sees the generations of Legionnaires aging and very few new members moving to the area. “There are currently 108 members of the Legion, and we hope that more people will join.” As he showed me the walls of the Legion, graced with the photographs of so many of Sag Harbor’s men and woman who have served, David said, “This is where you find the old Sag Harbor. Mrs. Santacroce who was in Normandy and Mrs. Zebrowski who was our first female member, Mr. Frank Onisko who gave so much to so many,” and so many more.

There is a tangible sense of respect and reverence as David scans the plaques and photographs: the life, the dreams, the courage, the sacrifice of so many of Sag Harbor’s own. “We lost 46 in the Civil War alone. That’s almost an entire generation.” He not only looks at those pictures with his eyes, but also with his heart, a heart that keeps the memory of so many alive. The Legion stands to honor them and to continue their legacy of love of God and love of Country. So we are grateful to David Pharaoh and to the many Veterans that help to make Sag Harbor and the United States of America a great place to call HOME.