Military personnel were honored Friday morning at the 2011 Veterans Day Ceremony at Veterans Plaza, coinciding with the 10th anniversary of the plaza itself and the unveiling of a memorial plaque in front of a waterfall dedicated to former serviceman Nicholas Albanese.
The gathering also included a rifle salute by the Smithtown Veterans Rifle Squad, the Hauppauge High School Chamber Choir singing "The Star Spangled Banner" and "God Bless America," and an essay read by Teresa Tellekamp, one of the winners of the VFW Voice of Democracy Essay Competition.
Congressman Tim Bishop, D - Southampton, was among those who spoke at the event, which was led by service officer Tom Mooney, a former combat engineer in the Vietnam War.
"It's nice to see so many people come out," Bishop said following the ceremony. "This is the day that Americans should take very seriously and I'm glad to see the people of Smithtown do."
Johanna Cervellino, 74, a Smithtown resident since 1973 and whose husband is a Navy veteran who served during World War II, reflected on the hour-long honoring.
"Today's ceremony was a very poignant one and it's a powerful reminder of what it takes for a country to remain free," she said. "It also reminds us of the incredible sacrifice of those who survived and those who never came home."
"I like to see the kids here. I don't think they remember enough what everybody gave up for them," Jennifer Giannotti, 45, said. "In honor of my father I'm proud to see the Marine flag."
"I thought it was really cool when they were raising the flags and played a song for each flag," Giannotti's 11-year-old daughter, Daniella added. "[The soldiers] risk their lives to keep our country safe."