Local pols honor veterans, vow to do more

“It’s no coincidence that Veteran’s Day is on November 11 and then Thanksgiving comes around the same time. This is a season of thanks, and it’s important to remember to be thankful to the veterans in our community.”

These words were spoken by Assemblymember Bill Colton at his Veterans’ Recognition Night on November 18. Standing in front of a poster that said, “Got freedom? Thank a veteran,” he addressed a crowd of about 40 people.

Councilmember Mark Treyger also spoke at the event, echoing Colton’s sentiments about being thankful for veterans.

“Enough of thanks with words,” Treyger urged. “It’s time for thanks with action!”

The evening’s agenda involved a color guard of veterans presenting the flag, speeches from elected officials, with each veteran in attendance receiving personalized citations of thanks from Colton and Treyger.

Army veteran Sal Pennisi was among the veterans honored at the event, which was held at the United Progressive Democratic Club, 29 Bay 25th Street. He said, “I’m here because I am a veteran. It doesn’t matter if you are a Democrat or Republican. I’m an American.”

Mark Ginsberg, also an Army veteran, periodically attends events at the clubhouse. “Colton does a lot for veterans. He’s someone we need on our side,” he said.

While attendees snacked on pastries and coffee, Colton spoke of his success in sponsoring a bill requiring the New York State Department of Veterans Affairs to develop the Veteran Speakers Bureau. His efforts got the bill signed into law and now there is a database of available veterans who are willing to visit schools and share their experiences with students.

Only by listening to veterans describe their experiences can kids truly understand their contributions, he said. His interest in creating the bureau is a result of attending P.S. 216’s annual Salute to the Veterans music program, which happened this year on the same day as Colton’s celebration. Many of the veterans had come from that event. Pennisi remarked that the performance was moving enough to bring the audience to tears.

“If you see homeless veterans, contact our offices immediately so we can reach out,” urged Treyger while discussing other ways communities can repay those who served.

“We haven’t done our job well,” concluded Colton. “We need to do a better job for our veterans like they’ve done for us.”

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