Brooklyn Daily Eagle - November 12, 2010by Harold Egeln
"We all thank you for your courage and sacrifice for what you did accomplish and have done for the citizens of this great nation and the world," said Golden at the Bay Ridge Manor to the packed room.
"You have fought against Nazism, communism and terrorism, and we honor your service to the greatest democracy ever created on the face on the earth," said Golden. "We are a people of faith and resolve who love, honor and respect our values and country."
The annual breakfast awards ceremony was held the day before Veterans Day and on the 235th anniversary of the U.S. Marine Corps, founded in 1775 in Philadelphia. It featured an anniversary cake along with an 88th birthday cake for veteran Ralph Mottola, often seen collecting money for the VA Hospital every Saturday on 86th Street in Bay Ridge.
"I am overwhelmed and humbled," said Mottola of the Brooklyn Key Chapter, adding that in all their collections over the years "close to half-a-million dollars" was given to the VA Hospital. "We're so lucky that Senator Golden honors our veterans. And I have a special place in my heart for the Marines and how they cleared all those Pacific Islands in World War II."
John Manley, Fort Hamilton Army Base public affairs officer, said, "I'm a Marine major who now works for the Army. We are all one team and proud to serve our country." Golden said the fort "has opened its doors to our veterans and the community."
"Nobody gives more support for veterans and the military than Senator Golden," said Col. Michael Gould, Fort Hamilton Army Base commander. "Our veterans have sacrificed their lives, limbs and health for freedom. There is no other higher calling than what you have done. I am overwhelmed by your level of commitment. We are grateful and very proud."
Firefighter James Dowdell was given the Friend of Veterans Award for his work with the Wounded Veterans cause. Honored Veterans Awards were presented to Firefighter Philip Giordano, Army specialist, and Anthony Alaimo, Army specialist, also for Wounded Warriors work.
Decorated war veteran Rubin Pratt, who was inducted into the New York State Veterans Hall of Fame on June 1 by Golden, was also saluted.
"James Dowdell coordinated Wounded Warriors trips to Walter Reed and Bethesda hospitals," said Golden, also noting the service of his father and saluting his mother Rose Ellen Dowdell at the event. Veterans' leader Howard Dunn of American Legion Amity Post 791, who led the flag salute, gave him a Wounded Warriors T shirt.
The Wounded Warriors trips were coordinated with FF Giordano of FDNY Ladder 172, who was a 9/11 site volunteer and served in Afghanistan in the Army infantry in 2003-2004. Alaimo, who served in Iraq in 2007-2008 and also at Fort Bragg, was also honored for his Wounded Warriors work.
"I got lost in Walter Reed Hospital but I learned a lot," said Golden about a trip to see severely injured current soldiers. "I heard from them, 'Sir, could you get me back to my unit?' and 'Sir, could you get me back to Iraq?' This commitment is the untold story of our heroes. Out of the 100 people I talked to, all are proud of their service and are ready to do it again. That's the American spirit!"
The presentation of colors was by American Legion Amity Post 791, the National Anthem was sung by retired Army Sgt. Louis Licalzi, the invocation by Army Post Chaplain Major Richard Garvey and taps by Barry Berger of the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 72. Recorded 1940s music played in the background.