Officials at Suffolk County Community College's Selden campus will alter a plaque honoring veterans after an employee said it gave the wrong date for the United States' entry into World War II.
The metal plaque, set in a stone base and installed in 2006, gives the years of U.S. involvement in the war as 1940 to 1945. The entry year will be changed to 1941, college spokesman Drew Biondo said.
"If it's wrong, it's wrong, and we'll have to correct it," Biondo said. He announced the change last week following an inquiry by Newsday.
Salvatore Esposito, a Medford resident and Army veteran who works on the college's buildings and maintenance crew, said he had complained for years to college officials that the plaque was incorrect. Biondo said officials were unaware of Esposito's concerns.
"That's awesome," Esposito, 43, said when he was told of the change. "I was surprised for a higher learning institution that they wouldn't get that date right."
Biondo said the change would be made after a contractor is hired, a process that may require competitive bidding under county rules. He said he could not estimate the cost of changing the date.
The United States declared war on Germany, Japan and Italy after the Pearl Harbor attack in December 1941. Some historical references note the U.S. instituted the draft and sent military assistance to Britain in September 1940.
College officials involved in planning the plaque -- one of several outside the school's Riverhead Building honoring U.S. veterans of various wars -- could not recall why the 1940 date was used, Biondo said. Records indicate a campus veterans committee at the time "argued quite a bit" over the matter, he said.
Esposito, who said he served as a medic at a combat support hospital in Iraq from 2005 to 2006, said the college should add a plaque honoring Afghanistan veterans. He also questioned why a plaque for Iraq veterans does not indicate that the war has ended. Biondo said the college will consider both.
"You can see why I take it a little personal," Esposito said. "I run into Iraq vets and Afghanistan vets, and it's a little embarrassing."