BY DIANA BIERMAN
On July 22, the Eagle Chapter of Korean War Veterans of Rockland County held their 19th monument memorial service to honor and remember the 27 Rockland residents who gave their lives while serving in the war.
Approximately 60 to 70 people attended to commemorate these fallen heroes at the Gary Onderdonk Rockland Veterans Cemetery at Rockland Community College.
Ceremonies included a POW/MIA chair cover remembrance, an honor guard rifle salute and placement of a red, white and blue wreath. The wreath was placed in front of the Korean War Monument, a granite rock with a plaque that holds each of the 27 late veterans’ names. Above the inscribed names reads, “They gave their today for your tomorrow.”
“They gave their lives because they believed in what they were doing for their country,” said state senator Bill Larkin. “And their families can rest assured that we veterans will never let anyone forget those who gave that sacrifice for us.”
Dr. Cliff L. Wood, president of Rockland Community College, also spoke on behalf of those who served. “Our country is a wonderful country. It’s attributed to those who offered their lives for the rest of us,” he said.
The Korean War began on June 25, 1950 and ended July 27, 1953 with the signing of a cease fire agreement. About 33,443 were killed, 103,284 were wounded, 7,140 were taken as prisoners of war and 8,177 are still listed as missing in action.
“Freedom is something that we the American people think is essential—and it is for or livelihoods,” said Rudy Damonti, of Valley Cottage, who explained how the memorial service also serves as a personal experience for him each year, as his brother, Paul, served in the Korean War. “My mother cried, and I remember almost every day worrying abut him and praying for him,” he recalled.
But Paul came home safely and served as a police officer for about 40 years. He passed away five years ago. “So I always do this for Paul as well,” Damonti explained. “But I’m really doing it today for all of you who represent the great war veterans of Rockland, and especially for those 27 who gave their lives.”
In honor of each deceased veteran, their names were read following a round of gunshots fired by other veterans.
The Korean War Veterans Eagle Chapter was formed in 1992 and currently has 170 veterans of the Korean War, with representation from all branches of the U.S. armed services.