A celebration of the past has turned into an effort to honor veterans for generations.
Members of the Huntington High School Class of 1964 were planning their 50th reunion for next year when they decided to try to get the names of some of their classmates who served in the military during the Vietnam War on the town's wall recognizing the conflict.
Town Supervisor Frank Petrone thought it was a good idea and began accepting names to be added to the monument for the first time in five years.
"This seemed to offer the perfect opportunity to reopen the wall to all Huntingtonians who would like to see their name or that of a loved one added to the list of those who served our country honorably in Vietnam," Petrone said.
To be eligible, a candidate must have lived in Huntington for six months at any time in their life and served in the military from Feb. 20, 1961, to May 7, 1975. Those who served in the war will have a star placed next to their name.
An application and a copy of the veteran's service record must be submitted, along with a $15 donation to defray expenses.
Lou Pagano, Class of 1964 and a Hicksville resident, is leading the effort to find eligible classmates, with 13 names so far.
"A lot of us felt we never got the welcome that we could have gotten," said Pagano, a Marine in Vietnam from 1968 to 1970. "We felt we'll put this out there and it will just be the graduates and any veterans that showed up from our class, but I see there are a lot of people getting behind us and that feels good."
The wall, unveiled in 2003, has 1,112 local Vietnam War veterans. The town will continue to collect names and will have the unveiling of the new names in 2015, to honor the 40th anniversary of the end of hostilities in Vietnam. For information, call Carol Rocco, the town's coordinator for veterans affairs, at 631-351-3012.