Veterans Day observations will be held Thursday at the at . Sponsored jointly by the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion, the service begins at 11 a.m.
VFW Commander John Chalker and American Legion Post Commander Arthur George will officiate. All veterans are urged to attend. Chalker suggests getting to the band shell by 10:30 am with or without your own folding chair to select your best spectator spot.
The band shell is but a few steps away from a war memorial monument at the nearby Town Dock. There, plaques list Port Washington service people who lost their lives in World War I, World War II, Korea and Vietnam.
Of course, those listed were not the only men and women who fought for their country, nor do the plaques represent all the wars in which Long Islanders fought. Cow Neck settlers served with Col. John Sands IV in the Great Neck-Cow Neck Militia, which fought in the Battle of Long Island in 1776.
The Sands family was born in what is now the oldest part of the headquarters. There were four Sands and seven Cornwalls on the roster of 140 men comprising the local militia. Another generation fought in the war of 1812, which some considered a continuation of the American Revolution, including Abraham Lyson Sands of Sands Point, who graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1808.
The War Between the States tore the country apart from 1861 to 1865. Though no fighting took place on Long Island, many local men joined various New York regiments. Company H of the of the 119th NY Infantry Regiment, formed by Captain Benjamin Willis of Roslyn, was made up almost entirely of men from North Hempstead, many from Port Washington. Memorial Day, commemorating the Civil War, originated in 1868 at the order of a Union General, and was called Decoration Day, as people were urged to decorate the graves of soldiers. There was also a southern Memorial Day honoring Confederate Troops.
With knowledge of the horrors of modern warfare brought to the public nightly on television, it may be difficult to fathom that there was a time when going off to war was regarded by volunteers and civilians alike as a glorious thing to do. But such was the case when the "boys" marched off to make the world safe for democracy in 1917. In all, 330 men from Port Washington saw military service in 1917 and 1918.
Veterans Day got started as Armistice Day after the End of World War I in 1918. The Date of November 11 commemorates the armistice signed between the allies of World War I and Germany at Compiègne, France, for the cessation of hostilities on the Western Front, which took effect at 11 a.m. – the "eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month."
After World War II, Armistice Day was still celebrated on Nov. 11, but by 1953, people began calling it Veterans Day in recognition of veterans of World War II and the Korean War. Congress agreed and in 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed a bill proclaiming Nov. 11 as Veterans Day.