On June 19 nearly 500 members of the Longwood community and their neighbors gathered to celebrate the Monuments Dedication honoring Longwood’s World War II, Korean and Vietnam Veterans at Bartlett Pond Park on Middle Country Road in Middle Island. Five granite monuments were unveiled in a moving ceremony that concluded with an emotional medal presentation to local veterans.
The new stones, crafted by Fricke Memorials, contain the names of all who were local residents at the time of their service during the American Revolution, Civil War, World War I, Korean War and Vietnam War. Members of area Fire Departments from Coram, Middle Island, Gordon Heights, Ridge and Yaphank were given the honor of laying the first wreaths at the new monuments. The existing WWII monument, installed on Memorial Day 2007, was decorated by the Chiefs of the five fire departments at the same time.
The Veterans Memorial Project began in 1998 when Longwood Social Studies Teacher Paul Infranco asked World War II Veteran James Eagle of Coram to speak to his students about his experiences at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Mr. Eagle passed away shortly after he gave the interview. Many of the students were saddened by his death and felt that something needed to be done to honor the men and women who fought for America’s right to remain free.
This led to a twelve-year odyssey to gather information to be published in journals containing the biographies of veterans from the Longwood area starting with the Revolutionary War to the veterans serving today. Mr. Infranco, his social studies department colleagues, and their students garnered relevant information from the National Archives, Suffolk County Historical Society, Longwood Public Library and the Brookhaven Town Historian’s Office.
Longwood students, families and teachers also raised the funds for the World War II monument. The five new monuments were made possible by the Caithness Community Development Fund, through the auspices of LIPA and the Town of Brookhaven.
The Longwood Alliance is coordinating a Buy-a-Brick program for future monuments honoring veterans of Desert Storm, Iraqi Freedom and Afghanistan. Information about the project and the rich history of the 53-square miles known as Longwood can be found at www.longwoodsjourney.com and at www.longwood.k12.ny.us/history/ or by calling Paul Infranco at 924-8839, Gail Bailey at 732-4529, or Tom Talbot at 924-5793.