Last week, he was honored at Borough Hall during an event marking Memorial Day. He doesn’t care fo the phrase “Happy Memorial Day.”
"They mean well but it’s not a happy event because it’s memorializing all the people that passed away," he said.
A similar sentiment was shared by Borough President Melinda Katz.
"We should remember this isn’t only about barbecues and parties," Katz stated. "This is about honoring those men and women who served our country and died in order for us to put our kids to bed at night."
Katz said we have an obligation to remember.
“The most that we can do here is make sure that the men and women who are coming home right now from conflicts, from all the services they are doing throughout the world, know that one generation no longer forgets another one,” she said.
Katz also honored Brendan Gibbons, who served in the Marine Corps during the Bosnia and Kosovo conflicts from 1996 to 2001.
Gibbons began as a radio operator, and participated in Operation Joint Guardian. He has served in the NYPD since 2002.
“All you other veterans here that have served, you know what it’s like,” he said. “I’m here today for you guys and the people who can’t be with us.”
Another honoree was Joseph Carese, who served in the Army during World War II in the 32nd Red Arrow Infantry Division. After serving in the Philippines, Caressi received the Silver and Bronze stars, World War II Victory Medal, and Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal.
Carese is a retired Post Office worker and a resident of Ozone Park.
One sacrifice that often goes overlooked is that made by families of those who serve.
Tanya Lynn Wilson Thomas was married to Sergeant Dwight Anthony Thomas, a member of the Marine Corps in Cherry Point, North Carolina. She recalled his excitement when he was recommended for officer training, but suddenly collapsed from a blood clot in his brain.
He was 23 and they had two children, both under the age of five. He would die nine years later.
“Nothing like this was supposed to happen to us for many, many years to come,” said Thomas “I learned to care for him, and our children got used to seeing their dad in a hospital bed.”