The Bay Ridge Community Council’s annual dinner held at Sirico’s Caterers was a wonderful evening that honored two great individuals, Bob Howe and Mike Long, with the organization’s prestigious civic award. The well-attended event also saw a changing of the guard with outgoing President Vincent Bocchino turning over his gavel to new President Ralph Succar.
Not surprisingly, the two honorees have a lot in common. They both have been active for decades. They both have devoted countless hours among other community activities to local merchants. They both are active in politics, with Bob having served as a Republican district leader and executive chairperson of the Brooklyn Republican Party and Mike Long being a nationally recognized Conservative leader who has served for over 27 years as chairperson of the New York Stat Conservative Party. And, most important, both men enjoy enormous support from their large families and wives Diana Howe and Eileen Long.
I had the thrill of presenting Mike Long with his award. Over 30 years ago, I attended my first Council dinner and thought to receive the civic award was really an awesome thing. Now to be the one presenting the award, especially to such a good friend as Mike, was immensely gratifying.
Supreme Court Judge Matt D’Emic swore in the full slate of officers.
There are now 1,621 from the Vietnam War still listed by the Department of Defense as missing and unaccounted for. Three remains were identified in the past year. Most recently, in March of this year, the remains of Specialist First Class Alan Boyer of the Army Green Berets, listed as MIA in Laos in March of 1968, and discovered over a year ago, were identified.
The Conservative Party, as it has for a number of years, was joined by the St Anselm’s Boy Scout troop whose members participated in the ceremony by reading a patriotic poem. Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis was in attendance as she has been every year that she has held office, as well as Congressmember Dan Donovan.
The 81st Street and Shore Road location, besides being a beautiful spot overlooking the Narrows, has historical significance. The flagpole was donated at the turn of the last century by school children who took up a collection to honor those who served in the Spanish American War. And the area in front of the flagpole has markers shaded by small trees that identify several local members of the military killed in action during the Vietnam War.
I was the MC of the short ceremony. I took the opportunity to reference those who wear the gold star pin, often referred to Gold Star Mothers. In fact, the pin can be worn by a mother, father or sibling who has lost a loved one at war. I wanted to note this for the Boy Scouts who would be attending the Memorial Day Parade which immediately followed our ceremony. I knew there would be a number of individuals wearing the pin at the parade and I thought it was important to explain what they represented and urge the young men to pay these men and women the greatest respect.
I also want to mention that retired Major David Ryan said the Pledge of Allegiance. David served three tours in Iraq. His two brothers have also done several tours in the Middle East, and his father is a retired general in the New York Guard. They are a local family. It is important that we acknowledge that our community, which is one of the few with an active military base in its community, also has many military families that live among us.