"It was almost like a deja vu," said Polito, of Massapequa. "It brought back how those people were in those countries over there. I never thought I would see something like that right in my own backyard."
Polito was one of the dozens of veterans who attended the annual Veterans Day Ceremony Sunday morning sponsored by the American Legion's Massapequa Post 1066.
Though Sandy was among the events on the agenda, the ceremony itself was not affected, Oyster Bay Town Supervisor John Venditto said. More than 50 people attended the event held at Albert F. Klestinec Park on Broadway in Massapequa. Klestinec was the first Massapequa man to die in the Vietnam War, said Venditto, who knew the veteran personally.
"It's important to be here every November just to reinforce the values and to be thankful of all the freedoms and opportunities that the sacrifice of our veterans has given us," Venditto said.
Venditto said he was impressed at how helpful Long Island veterans have been during Sandy's aftermath. He has seen veterans making donations and housing fellow Long Islanders who lost their homes. "In addition to the physical effort they're putting forward, there's a psychological component to that because these men and women have been there, they have done that," Venditto said. "And it's very comforting to have them during these difficult times."
Bob Rubino, another Vietnam War veteran attending the ceremony, said Sandy had a huge impact on his life, but he was surprised at how much help he has received.
The Lindenhurst man, who's a former president of the Massapequa Chamber of Commerce, said he still does not have power or hot water at home, his whole basement is flooded and he lost his car.
"Most people go on their way, they don't have time to help other people," he said. "This has been an amazing experience. Hopefully, everybody will come out of this stronger."
Susan Martin, whose husband served in the Vietnam War, said the storm showed how generous Long Islanders can be. "Tragedy brings out the best in people," said Martin, of Massapequa.