Members of the Riverhead American Legion and VFW posts lay wreaths at the base of the World War I monument on Veterans Day, 2019. Photo: Denise Civiletti

Riverhead residents paid tribute to veterans today with a ceremony at the World War I Memorial on West Main Street.

The ceremony is conducted annually on Veterans Day by the Riverhead Combined Veterans Committee. About 60 people attended this morning’s event.

Members of the Riverhead VFW Post 2476 and American Legion Post 273 and the Riverhead VFW Post 2476 Auxiliary laid wreaths at the base of the granite World War I monument.

Topped by an eternal flame, the tall granite monument bears a plaque on which are engraved the names of the 308 men of Riverhead who, its inscription reads, “answered the call of their country to fight for world-wide liberty in the war 1917-1919.”

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the first Armistice Day, proclaimed by President Woodrow Wilson in 1919 — one year after fighting between the Allies and Germany halted at 11 a.m. on Nov. 11, 1918.

Nov. 11 formally became a national holiday in 1938. In 1954, the name of the holiday was changed to Veterans Day

Today’s ceremony, in addition to the laying of wreaths, included a gunfire volley, the National Anthem sung by Judy Kettrick, Taps by bugler Phil Norklun and prayers by American Legion chaplain Carl Janlewicz and VFW chaplain Chris Saccoccia.

Deputy Supervisor Catherine Kent was the keynote speaker. She thanked veterans for “their profound sacrifice and service,” noting that we all owe them our freedom.

Kent called on the community to recognize its own responsibility of service, “the service of promise-keeping.”

Noting that “an alarming number of veterans commit suicide every day,” Kent said we can and must do better to support our veterans.

“When we send our men and women into harm’s way, we are making a promise to them that when they come home, they will be greeted by a grateful nation willing to support and defend them as they did for us,” Kent said. “Our service men and women have done right by us and too often we have not done the same for them,” she said.

“After the parades are over and the banners are put away, we must continue to be there for our veterans and their families… We must strive to continue to honor the promise we have made to them,” Kent said.

“Let us remember and honor all of our veterans for what they have done to build a more peaceful future for us and generations to come.”

RiverheadLOCAL photos by Denise Civiletti

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Denise Civiletti
Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.