The 105th anniversary of the end of World War I will be remembered at the annual Veterans Day Observance at Ocean View Cemetery in Bay Terrace, on Saturday, Nov. 11 at 11 a.m.
The annual ceremony, to be conducted at 3315 Amboy Rd., has been held since the year 1919 at the site of the World War I Monument located in the cemetery.
Originally dubbed Armistice Day by President Woodrow Wilson in 1919, Veterans Day was designated in its place by the 38th Congress at the urging of World War I, World War II and Korean War veterans back in 1954.
The annual Staten Island Veterans Day ceremony was originally sponsored on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month at Ocean View Cemetery by a group of World War I veterans known as the Staten Island Barracks, notes Lee Covino, a U.S. Army corporal and longtime borough advocate for veterans’ affairs and president of USIVO, the United Staten Island Veterans Organization.
As the vets aged out, the Veterans of Foreign Wars picked up the guidon and continued the services and the Veterans Organization (USIVO) began sponsoring the annual ceremony.
This year’s keynote speaker is veterans advocate JoAnne Nolemi, founder/president of The Island Heroes Project, which researches and remembers the 1,300 men and women from Staten Island who made the ultimate sacrifice in all wars.
The mission of the organization is to discover, identify and research Staten Island’s war dead and share information about veterans and their patriotism with students, young people and veterans alike.
Nolemi served for 20 years as Director of Choruses at Tottenville High School, where she integrated her passion for Staten Island’s fallen heroes.
The students identified more than 70 Staten Islanders killed in action in World War I that to this day are not listed on the World War I Memorial at Hero Park.
Nolemi has been recognized as a New York State Woman of Distinction, a New York State Educator of the Year and has received the New York City Big Apple Award and the CUNY High School Educator of the Year Award.
She also has received awards from the Four Chaplains Foundation, the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars. In addition, members of her family served in the American Revolutionary War and the Civil War.
A ceremonial rifle volley will be offered by members of the Marine Corps League, Detachment 246 followed by Taps, played by the Tottenville High School Ceremonial Taps Unit under the direction of Laurie D’Amico.
Immediately following the ceremony members of USIVO will venture over to Frederick Douglass Memorial Park which is next to Ocean View Cemetery, to pay respects to fellow veterans and members of the Richmond District 369th Veterans Association, including Cpl. Lawrence Thompson, the first Black soldier to die during the Vietnam War.
Frederick Douglass Memorial Park is New York City’s only African-American cemetery.
The park, which comprises a football/soccer field, two softball fields, a state-of-the-art track and a children’s playground, opened in 1972. Thompson, a Marine, was killed in Quang Nam June 10, 1967, during his second tour at the age of 20.
The rededication, which consists of a boulder with his photograph, was spurred by the endless door-knocking of retired Army Staff Sgt. Leon Wallace, a member of the 369th Veterans Association, Richmond District.
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