Nov. 12, 2012 By Bill Parry
A small crowd of about 40 people gathered yesterday at John V. Daniels Park in Woodside to participate in a morning ceremony in recognition of Veterans Day.
George Custance, the Veterans of Foreign Wars’ Post 2813’s quartermaster, was disappointed by the small crowd. “Maybe people got confused,” he said. “Today [Sunday] is the official holiday—while tomorrow it’s observed.”
Many of this community’s local veterans spent most of Sunday at the VFW Post at 51-27 Queens Blvd., where a buffet was spread out on the pool table and the bar was full.
Vets of all ages joined in—along with their family and friends. “This is our second most important day on our calendar after Memorial Day,” said Service Commander Mike Smith. “We’re open all day long until everybody leaves.”
The only female member of the Post, Gulf War Veteran Luz Fernandez, said “I grew up in Woodside, so it’s great coming back. It’s like being with family.”
Michael Manchon just moved to Woodside from Norfolk, Va., after a nine-year career in the Navy. He was walking his dogs Sunday morning when a member of the “Ladies Auxiliary of VFW” spotted his USS Oscar Austin cap. “She invited me to join them. I’m the Post’s newest member.”
Pedro Nieves is the oldest. The 87-year old is a Veteran of WWII and Korea and said, “It’s always great to see my buddies.”
The Commander of the Post, Jerry Cisco, stopped tending bar to lead a standing ovation when Jimmy Drew arrived. The military policeman returned to Sunnyside just four days ago after finishing a tour in Afghanistan, following a separate tour in Iraq.
“I have two daughters, a four year old and a 26-month old,” Drew said. “I’ve been spending my time with them, but wanted to stop in and say, Hi.”
Drew brought back two American flags from Afghanistan: one for the post and the other for the Ladies Auxiliary. The president of the auxiliary, Sandra Bigitschke, was happy with the day’s events, adding that nothing was planned for Monday.
“We do everything on our day, the official holiday,” she said.