Veterans recently joined with Senator Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr. (8th Senate District) at the Long Island National Cemetery in Farmingdale to thank him for a new law he sponsored that will direct more visitors to honor our nation’s fallen heroes and veterans. At the request of veterans groups, Senator Fuschillo sponsored the law permitting the New York State Department of Transportation (DOT) to post "Long Island National Cemetery" signs on the east and westbound sides of the Long Island Expressway at Exit 49 South and the Southern State Parkway at Exit 35 - Wellwood Avenue. Senator Fuschillo and the veterans unveiled a sample of the sign with DOT officials at the cemetery.
"Over 325,000 fallen heroes, veterans and others from every United States conflict dating back to the Spanish-American War have been laid to rest in this beautiful cemetery of rolling hills which spans over 365 acres," Senator Fuschillo said. "Yet, many visitors and Long Island residents do not know it’s here. Installing these signs on our parkways will forever point the way so more may visit, respect and visualize the number of men and women who have contributed and sacrificed themselves for our nation."
The Long Island National Cemetery was first opened in 1937 and is owned by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. Among the 325,841 who have been laid to rest there are 19 Medal of Honor Recipients, with the earliest recipient dating back to 1879. There are also 39 group burials containing the remains of 112 veterans for times when the circumstances of death prevented the identification of soldiers. In addition, several members of the British Armed Forces as well as some German and Italian POW’s are buried at the site.
Stephen Nicolino, Commander of the William Clinton Story American Legion Post #342 in Freeport, played a key role in advocating for the legislation and was very pleased to see the idea come to fruition. "I, along with my fellow veterans, thank Senator Fuschillo and Assemblywoman Earlene Hooper for supporting this project and bringing it to a successful conclusion," Mr. Nicolino stated. "This was a cause worth fighting for."
Max Graber, President of the Long Island National Cemetery Memorial Association, was at the event and was also instrumental in getting the law introduced. "Each and every veteran and family member laid to rest here at the Long Island National Cemetery contributed to the freedoms and liberties you and I enjoy today," Mr. Graber said. "While this is only one of many National Cemeteries across the nation, the number of white marble headstones so perfectly aligned and maintained is a reminder to us all that freedom is not free. We thank Senator Fuschillo for all that he has done so more may come and honor these brave men and women."
Tom Riordan, Commander of the Nassau County American Legion said the veterans first asked for Senator Fuschillo’s help when they learned of fellow veterans who visited Long Island but were not able to find the National Cemetery or became lost. "This cemetery means so much to Long Islanders but more importantly to veterans who served side-by-side with some of the heroes laid to rest here," Mr. Riordan said. "It is my hope that this sign will direct future visitors, especially children and families, to pay respects to those who contributed and paid the ultimate sacrifice so that you and I can live and enjoy freedom."
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