NEWSDAY: SENATE HALL OF FAME TO ADD LOCAL VETERAN

 

     

    By MEGHAN MURPHY

    Vietnam veteran Eugene Parrotta, an advocate for soldiers, will represent Westchester County’s 40th Senate District in the 2012 New York Senate Veteran Hall of Fame, state Sen. Greg Ballannounced Sunday at the Mount Kisco American Legion.

    As Memorial Day approaches, Ball (R-Patterson) has been traveling throughout his district honoring 27 veterans from the communities he serves with a wall that tells their stories.

    “You don’t have to go online; you don’t have to watch a movie to find a hero,” Ball said.

    To find the honorees, Ball asked each community to nominate a hero of its own. Mayors and officials jumped at the chance, Ball‘s spokeswoman Krista Gobins said.

    Parrotta, of Cornwall-on-Hudson, was selected among those veterans to represent the district at the state level.

    “I’m humbled,” said Parrotta, a U.S. Army specialist fourth class with dark hair striped with bands of gray. “It’s such an honor to be in such company of all the people on this wall.”

    Parrotta warned the audience that he may choke up during his impassioned address about veterans’ contributions to democracy.

    The wall tells the stories of local veterans, from World War II to the war in Afghanistan. Ball has brought the memorial to 11 communities so far, including schools, a hospital and veterans halls.

    The wall honors soldiers both living and dead. Joseph Etta, 94, a World War II infantry sergeant who is one of the 27, received shouts and hollers as he rose to shake hands with Ball and Westchester County Executive Robert Astorino on Sunday.

    And Mount Kisco Mayor J. Michael Cindrich spoke warmly of Eric Jones of Pound Ridge, who died at age 29 serving as a Marine in Afghanistan.

    “Freedom is not free,” Parrotta said during his address to the crowd. “The price of freedom comes because of a man like Eric Jones.”

    Five years ago, Parrotta started fighting a battle for veterans on the home front. His voice reflected his passion as he spoke about honoring his fellow service members, so much so that Ball joked after the ceremony that Parrotta should run for office.

    Parrotta is the volunteer chairman of the Veterans Advocacy Council at two local veterans affairs campuses. He works daily to help veterans find housing and on suicide prevention and supporting veterans’ families.

    “In five years, are we going to remember all the promises and the speeches?” Parrotta said. “I hope I have enough energy and strength to continue the fight.”

    On Tuesday, Parrotta will be inducted into the 2012 New York Senate Veterans Hall of Fame along with 61 other veterans from each state Senate district. The veterans each will receive a proclamation and join senators at a reception at the state Senate in Albany. (ARTICLE)