A number of local elected officials, civic leaders and high school students came together on Friday, November 6 outside Fort Hamilton High School’s “Honoring Our Veterans” mural to lay a wreath in anticipation of Veteran’s Day.
“Two years ago, Bay Ridge community members and students from this school came together and contributed their time and talents to produce this ‘Honoring Our Veterans’ mural that we see here today, and I think they did a great job,” said Councilmember Vincent Gentile who, in 2013 commissioned the mural – to be painted at the playing field of the school named for Bay Ridge’s own Fort Hamilton Army Base – with a portion of the discretionary funds allotted to him to distribute by the City Council. “And now, two years later, with all branches of the United States armed services represented on this wall, I am thrilled to be sharing our first wreath laying ceremony with all of you.”
The wreath-laying – organized by Gentile – was kicked off by the Fort Hamilton High School ROTC-conducted Color Guard and Honor Guard, a performance of the National Anthem and “America the Beautiful” by the Fort Hamilton High School Chorus, and a blessing by Major Tracy Hudgins, chaplain of the U.S. Army Garrison at Fort Hamilton.
The program was followed by brief words from Assemblymember Peter Abbate, Fran Vella-Marrone (representing Congressmember Daniel Donovan), Anthony Testaverde (a Marine veteran and representative for State Senator Marty Golden), Fort Hamilton High School Principal Kaye Houlihan and Navy veteran Anthony Giovinco.
“This mural brings our community together in order to recognize and honor our veterans – past, present and future,” Gentile said, noting that, even two years later, the mural is in mint condition. “It generates conversation and ensures that we keep veterans in our thoughts and hearts, not just on Veterans Day, but every day that we see this mural.”
“Every day should be Veterans Day,” added Testaverde. Both he and Giovinco served in the Vietnam War. “As a veteran, Councilmember Gentile, I thank you sincerely.”
The mural was designed by artist Esteban De Valle and is located on the Fort Hamilton High School Athletic Field on Colonial Road and 85th Street.