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Crowds survey 560 more names on honor wall for veterans in Nassau's Eisenhower Park

Brothers and World War II veterans Jeremiah Ahern

Brothers and World War II veterans Jeremiah Ahern and William Ahern, Jr. are surrounded by family at a ceremony to unveil the names of 560 American heroes, including them, added to the Walls of Honor in Eisenhower Park in East Meadow on Saturday Credit: Howard Schnapp

Among the hundreds of people Saturday who crowded around the 560 recently added veterans’ names on the Walls of Honor at Eisenhower Park were Jeremiah Ahern, 94, and William Ahern Jr., 95, brothers who fought in World War II.

Next to their names are those of their late brother Thomas and the late Frank Macchio, a close friend of Jeremiah.

"They wanted to all be together on the wall with their friend Frank," said Mary Macchio, 69, of Farmingdale, daughter of Jeremiah Ahern and daughter-in-law of Frank Macchio.

Saturday’s ceremony was the formal unveiling of 560 names that have been added to stainless steel plaques on the granite walls over the past two years — 280 this year and 280 in 2020. Last year, the ceremony in the East Meadow park was small because of COVID-19.

"It’s a wonderful way to honor all of our veterans, all the men and women who have stepped up and served our country to protect our precious and rare and beautiful freedoms, and it’s a reminder to everyone who comes to this beautiful monument garden that freedom is not free, freedom is not cheap, it comes all too often at a very steep price," said Nassau County Executive Laura Curran.

Nearly 15,000 names of "American heroes" are on the walls, said Pat Yngstrom, chairman of the nonprofit Nassau County Veterans Monument Fund, which oversees the walls. The honor is open to any veteran, living or dead, he said. There is a $100 fee for each name.

The inscriptions of the Ahern brothers and Macchio were gifts from Mary Macchio, her seven siblings and Thomas’ two children.

"What really impresses me the most as a mom is that my grandmother had three sons go out and serve in the same war," Macchio said. "Thank God they all came home safe."

Nicole Schneider, 48, of Forest Hills, Queens, took a photo of the name of her father, John Scotton, who served in Georgia as a drill instructor during the Vietnam War. The inscription is "so everyone remembers what he’s done for our country," she said.

Scotton, 76, of Rockville Centre, who immigrated from Italy in 1960, said he was proud to serve his new country after he was drafted at age 24.

"Now it was my country," he said.

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