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2 Long Island war heroes honored with memorials
ALBANY — New York has named part of a highway in Nassau County for a two-time Medal of Honor winner who rallied his Marines in World War I with the battle cry, “Come on! Do you want to live forever?” and named a Suffolk County bridge for a sergeant who died from rifle fire while taking the point for his troops in Afghanistan.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed a bill into law Thursday that honors Marine Sgt. Maj. Daniel Joseph Daly of Glen Cove and Army Sgt. Michael J. Esposito Jr. of Brentwood, among other soldiers statewide.
In 2004 in Afghanistan, Esposito led his Army team to clear a building. He spotted a door and went to it ahead of his squad. There, he was mortally wounded by rifle fire, but his squad survived to secure the building.
“Naming this bridge in his honor will not only keep his legacy of courage and dedication alive, but will serve as a constant reminder of the sacrifices made by our servicemen and women, who fight each and every day to protect our freedoms and liberties,” said Sen. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley).
Assemb. Phil Ramos (D-Brentwood) noted that Esposito re-enlisted after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
“His heroism, bravery and selfless dedication to duty represent the valor that is the American soldier,” Ramos said.
Esposito’s mother, Dawn, said the bridge is a fitting memorial because her son always called her from the car en route to visiting her by saying, “I’m on the bridge!”
She said she promised her son’s unit at Fort Drum in northern New York that she would make sure any ceremony honoring her son would also honor the 12 soldiers he served with him who died in combat. “They were brothers,” she said in an interview.
Daly received his first Medal of Honor in 1900 for inflicting 200 casualties during the Boxer Rebellion in China as he defended his position alone. The second top medal came in 1915 for leading a group of Marines to a fort after they were overwhelmed by an ambush of rebels in Haiti.
“Sergeant Major Daniel ‘Dan’ Joseph Daly was once acclaimed by the former Commandant of the Marine Corps, as ‘the outstanding Marine of all time,’ ” said Sen. Carl Marcellino (R-Syosset). “Fearless, tough, and well-respected, he exemplifies what it means to be a Marine.”
“History reflects that Sgt. Major Daly was recognized not once but twice for separate acts of heroism; a significant achievement by any standards,” said Assemb. Charles Lavine (D-Glen Cove).
“The men and women of our armed forces put everything on the line in order to protect our state and nation, and by renaming these bridges and roads we can continue to honor their legacy,” Cuomo said.
The state will install signs over the coming months noting the new memorials.
The Sgt. Michael J. Esposito Jr. Memorial Bridge is the bridge on Washington Avenue that crosses the Long Island Expressway in Islip.
A portion of State Route 107 in Glen Cove in Nassau will be called “Sergeant Major Daniel Joseph Daly Memorial Highway.” The stretch is from the southern city line to Pulaski Street.