As patriotic individuals, our staff has a difficult time understanding how our nation could have treated our Korean and Vietnam veterans so poorly upon their return from war. It was something we could not get off our minds on Wednesday, November 11th as the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation celebrated Veterans Day with a golf outing and dinner filled with patriotic pride. Living in the post-9/11 world, we could not be more grateful for the service and sacrifices made by our men and women in uniform to keep America safe – many of which are our sons, our brothers, our friends. At the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation, we all share the belief that our service members should be honored and respected – never ignored. One of the many things that makes the Foundation special is the fact that we don’t just honor this generation’s military heroes, but all service members throughout our nation’s history. This reverence for our military is felt every day throughout the year, but it was truly on display at our annual Golf Fore America’s Bravest event held on Veterans Day.
The day began with an outing comprising more than 400 golfers teeing off at three of Staten Island’s golf courses. Many of the golfers are veterans themselves – each one of them dressed in a hat or jacket (some both!) showing their pride in serving – whether it was Korea, Vietnam, the Cold War, or the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is such a great feeling to provide our veterans with a day in which they are recognized and honored. The event reunites veterans with friends and acquaintances, and enables the men and women who served to spend a memorable Veterans Day with others who wore the uniform.
After golf, a dinner, with no less than 650 proud Americans, was held at Nicotra’s Ballroom located at the Hilton Garden Inn on Staten Island. One of the more touching moments of the dinner program is the POW/MIA Table – a small, round table that is set, but never occupied – in honor of our prisoners of war and those missing in action. A truly humbling ceremony was held in which we were reminded that so many of our nation’s military heroes are unable to return to American soil. The dinner also features the annual Heroes to Heroes Award ceremony in which our first responders and military heroes are recognized for their service. This year, Cpl. Allen P. Kivlehan of the Korean War Veterans of Staten Island, NYPD Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu, who were assassinated in Brooklyn on December 19th, 2014, and Lt. Robert Ryan, FDNY, who made the ultimate sacrifice on November 23, 2008, were award recipients. There is something so moving about honoring those who serve and those who make sacrifices for others. It was our honor to recognize these individuals and share their heroic stories with our dinner guests.
It’s a privilege for the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation to bring together so many veterans and the proud Americans who support them on Veterans Day to remember their service and to thank them for their sacrifices. There is something special about the camaraderie. In one instance, a Vietnam veteran who lost both legs above the knee, was providing incredibly worthwhile advice to a double amputee from the war in Afghanistan. Sharing his life experiences will undoubtedly assist the younger man as he transitions to life without his legs. Not only is this information helpful for the young injured service member, but it gives the Vietnam veteran the chance to continue to lead and give back to his fellow brother-in-arms.
The Foundation is so proud to be part of this camaraderie, and is blessed to know so many heroic veterans. We love being part of the healing process for our injured service members, and are grateful that our connections in the military community can help change and empower lives. This is what Veterans Day at the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation is all about – helping our veterans.
We continue to appreciate the support that each one of you gives to us throughout the year. The Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation would not be able to make days like this possible for our service members without our supporters and volunteers. Thank you!
“Let Us Do Good”
Photo Credit: Don Kehoe