Post 1282, devoted to service
By Linda Delmonico-Prussen
Webmaster's Note: Dear Reader, this article is dated, Vincent J. Gabrielle was our Post Commander from 2001 to 2005, however, the article gives insights into what this organization is about and the activities that we are involved in. Therefore, I have decided to include this article on our blog page.
American Legion Post 1282 lies in the center of Merrick's Road's bustling business district in Merrick, and amid the swirl of cars pulling into and out of the various shops, fast-food eateries and gas stations, one might overlook the post building.
It is a humble, but neatly-kept gray house that, like Post 1282's members, doesn't scream for attention, but enjoys a long, proud history.
Past Commander Bob Wieboldt said that, over the years, the post has played an enormous role in the lives of veterans, helping them to get back on their feet once home from war or military service. "We needed to have a place to meet for all veterans to discuss their problems and do good work for veterans and their families," he said.
Present Commander Vincent Gabrielle, who joined the U.S. Navy at age 17, said veterans helping veterans is what Post 1282 is all about. "Nobody has the regard and honor for veterans as a veteran," Gabrielle said. "It becomes a matter of serving each other and the widows and survivors of the veterans. We care and watch out for each other."
Past Commander Tom Riordan said the post is growing. "We've expanded our activities the last number of years," he said.
More and more, all three said the post is asked to take part in community events. They attributed the increased interest in veterans to the country's current patriotic climate.
The American Legion, however, has worked hard to build ties with the Merrick community. Post members have given out American Flags to most every elementary student in the Merricks, at special events such as the Merrick Chamber of Commerce's Fall Festival, Kids Fest and in the schools. They also have offered presentations to students about veterans, such as at the Harold D. Fayette School in North Merrick recently.
The post also hands out citizenship awards to elementary and high-school students, as well as citations to Eagle Scout recipients. And the post sponsors a local high-school student to Boys State, an intense summer institute for future leaders that combines military, diplomacy and political studies.
Post 1282 members are often asked to act as color guards for opening ceremonies, such as those for the recent Merrick Fall Festival.
Members visit the Veterans Administration hospital in Northport, and legion member Booker Gibson plays piano to entertain those hospitalized.
The legion collects used glasses, hearing aides, used stamps and front of greeting cards, all for charity. Drop offs can be made at the Merrick or North Merrick public Libraries, Merrick Senior Center or Post 1282. The legion also collects torn or frayed flags to be properly retired. The post holds a blood drive.
The legion sponsors a curb-number program, made possible by donations. House numbers are painted on the curbs, making it easy for firefighters, police, and emergency medical services to locate homes.
Wieboldt said, "We wish to thank the general public for the support of this program."
Riordan added, "We've been fortunate with state grants and with the support from state Sen. Charles Fuschillo, Assemblywoman Maureen O'Connell and Assemblyman Dave McDonough for our post building, our grounds and our monuments."
Note: This article was publish in the Merrick Herald, Scott Brinton, Editor.