Members of VFW Post 516 in Farmingdale unveiled a granite monument Monday to honor a fallen local Marine and future war veterans in a dedication ceremony made possible by the generosity of area residents.
"It is always a sad thing, but it has got to be remembered," said Bob Fullam, 86, commander of Post 516 and a Korean War veteran. "Memorial Day is not just for cookouts . . . it is for the memory for our heroes that gave us our freedoms today. Without their sacrifice, we would never have what we have."
The granite slab, more than 5 feet tall and located in the park next to Village Hall, completes the garden of monuments that honor area soldiers who died in the Civil War, the world wars and the Korean and Vietnam wars. So far, it has only one name -- Marine Lance Cpl. James D. Argentine, 22, of Farmingdale, who died in Afghanistan in August 2009.
There is space for the names of other veterans to come, as well.
Frank Bondietti, 83, a Korean War veteran and member of Post 516, helped organize the fundraiser for the monument, which was paid for through community donations.
Organizers did not have a dollar figure available Monday but said they had raised thousands. The memorial includes emblems for each branch of the military.
Argentine's parents, Jan and Robert Argentine, attended the ceremony, which was held after the community parade Monday. Lance Cpl. Argentine was killed Aug. 6, 2009, in Afghanistan by a roadside bomb. He was supporting combat operations in Farah province, the Department of Defense said.
His name is inscribed in the monument along with the date and location of his death, beneath the phrase: "This Memorial is Dedicated to honor those from the Farmingdale area who gave their lives in defense of our country."
Argentine's father said he was grateful for community's support.
"The town has done a lot for us," he said. "It has been outstanding -- the outpouring of sympathy and gratitude for my son."
Anna Ievolo, 66, co-president of the Women's Club of Farmingdale, said she felt it was important to attend the ceremony. Her group donated funds for the monument. "We were very proud about that," she said.
Jan Argentine also thanked the VFW Post, saying: "The VFW never forgets -- they never forget us ever."Before the ceremony, the monument was covered with a canvas, which was lifted after several speeches from veterans calling for remembrance of those who sacrificed while fighting for the country. Bondietti said the monument has space available to add names "for those who will be lost" in future conflicts and wars.
"We would be thankful if we never had to add another name," he said.