It used to be that every year on June 14, nearly every house in Woodhaven was adorned with the American flag. Sadly, that’s the exception rather than the rule these days, but there was still enough of the old spirit left for two beautiful celebrations of our flag and country this past weekend.
On Friday, the students of St. Thomas the Apostle held their annual Flag Day celebration with the youngest ones marching about the basement cafeteria in handmade Uncle Sam hats singing “You’re A Grand Old Flag.”
The Pledge of Allegiance followed, then a beautiful rendition of the “Star Spangled Banner,” “God Bless America” and then finally the entire cafeteria, filled with about 200 students, waved flags and sang Lee Greenwood’s “I’m Proud to Be an American.” It was very touching and inspirational.
Assemblyman Mike Miller and Deputy Inspector Hank Sautner of the 102nd Precinct were the special guests, and they were both impressed by the singing and the patriotism of the young boys and girls.
The following day, residents of Woodhaven gathered at the American Legion Hall Post 118 on 89th Avenue for a Flag Day Barbecue that also served as an opportunity to say thank you to all the veterans who served our country.
This barbecue was inspired by last year’s “Thank a Vet” event held by the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association, and was funded by donations big and small by past and present residents of this community.
Assemblyman Miller donated a few trays of baked ziti, as well as the use of a large grill, and Paul Vasiliadis, owner of The Avenue Diner at 91-06 Jamaica Ave. donated plates and coolers. Other residents chipped in with canopy tents and some, like resident Jimmy Fusco, came out to lend their expertise at the grill.
Besides Assemblyman Miller, we were also honored to be joined by Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez, who presented the American Legion with a special American flag that had flown over the U.S. Capitol.
“It’s a beautiful day and today we honor all veterans, those who served and those who are still active, because they made the ultimate sacrifice, not only to protect our nation, and provide our liberties and freedoms, but also to make sure that we have peace around the world,” Congresswoman Velázquez told the residents gathered on 89th Avenue.
“This is the true meaning of community, friendship and family” said Martin Colberg, president of the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association. “We’re all a part of this community, and we’re all one big family in Woodhaven. It’s a great day to say ‘thank you’ to the vets and also a great day for us all to come out and meet some new neighbors.”
American Legion Auxiliary Department of New York 10th District President Mary Farley led a beautiful flag retirement ceremony, and we were also joined by several students from St. Thomas the Apostle – Jessica Diaz, Marco Diaz, Nicky Diaz, Arianna Rivera, Breanna Rivera, Joel Rivera, Brandon Roldan and Mario Roldan – who led the assembled residents of Woodhaven in the Pledge of Allegiance and the “Star Spangled Banner.”
It was a beautiful community event, reminiscent of the way things used to be in Woodhaven. A small stickball game even broke out and those who attended said it was a great time and look forward to doing it all over again next year.
The Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association will be gathering again this weekend, Saturday morning, June 21, at the American Legion Hall at 89-02 91st Street to discuss neighborhood issues ranging from noise and sanitation to the recent road work, potential plans to make basement housing legal and much more.
Please note that this Saturday’s meeting has a special start time of 10 a.m., which we’re hoping allows people to come out and take part in the meeting and still have time to enjoy the rest of their weekend. Hope to see you there!