By Christine Sampson
The South Fork is home to more than 4,700 military veterans, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Starting Thursday, communities across the South Fork will gather in the form of parades, breakfasts and other ceremonies to honor those veterans for their service.
“It’s a day to remember everybody who made a sacrifice,” said Harry “Hap” Wils, the commander of Sag Harbor’s Veterans of Foreign Wars Post #9082 and a veteran of the U.S. Army who was stationed in Germany during the Vietnam era. “Some died, some didn’t, some got wounds that you don’t see, but they suffered every day. It’s a day to honor people who protect this country.”
The Sag Harbor VFW has coordinated the annual Veterans Day parade in Sag Harbor once again. The parade will step off at the village’s Civil War monument at the corner of Main Street and Madison Street at 10 a.m. and will proceed to the American Legion Chelberg-Battle Post #388 headquarters on Bay Street. There, former Sag Harbor Fire Department Chief Thomas Gardella, a veteran himself, will be the keynote speaker.
Sag Harbor Elementary School will also celebrate Veterans Day with its annual breakfast and morning program, planned for Thursday morning at 8 a.m. School principal Matt Malone said the tradition is filled with music, and as many as 50 local service men and women regularly attend the event. This year, the school will unveil a special tribute that has been about a year in the making.
“We dedicate the morning to the veterans and thank them for their service, and hopefully impart to the students the importance of saying thank you and respecting the veterans for their service,” Mr. Malone said.
In East Hampton Village, the American Legion Post #419 and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post #550 will hold a short parade and ceremony starting at 10 a.m. from the stoplight at London Jewelers to the windmill. It will be followed by a ceremonial cease-fire event with refreshments at 11:11 a.m. at 15 Montauk Highway in Amagansett.
Also on Saturday, the Montauk Playhouse Community Center Foundation will hold a flag ceremony at 10 a.m. at 240 Edgemere Street in Montauk.
In Southampton Village, the Commission on Veterans Patriotic Events will be holding its annual Veterans Day parade and service at 11 a.m. at Agawam Park. The parade will step off from the First Presbyterian Church down Jobs Lane to the park. Cars will be provided for veterans who cannot march; they are asked to meet at the church parking lot by 10 a.m. Refreshments will be served at Veterans Memorial Hall following the service at the park.