One by one, recent graduates of the Town of Oyster Bay Preschool Program walked on the stage at John J. Burns Park in Massapequa. Together the group of children, all dressed in red, white and blue, performed the national anthem in song and in sign language in front of a large crowd.
“They performed the song at their graduation,” said mother Tracy Valroso, 40, as she snapped some pictures. “I’m so excited to hear them sing.”
The children opened the Salute to America Veterans Volunteer Awards, held Tuesday as part of the “Music Under the Stars” concert series put together by the Town of Oyster Bay. The concert series hosts a variety of events in different parks in the Town of Oyster Bay area throughout the month of July and into the first week of August.
On Tuesday, three people were awarded medals in recognition of their work with veterans in the community. Joseph Ingino was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award, Jack Maxwell was awarded the Town Veteran Volunteer of the Year award, and Nance Carter was awarded the Non-Veteran Volunteer award.
For Ingino, 64, vice president of Chapter 82 of the Vietnam Veterans of America, which covers Nassau County, the award came as a complete surprise.
“No one said a word to me about it until I got the letter; it was exciting,” said Ingino, 64, a Hicksville native. “I just want to thank the president, Paul Masai, and the rest of the members of Chapter 82 for making this all possible.”
For American Veterans Post 88 of Massapequa member Jack Maxwell, 67, the event was all about bringing the family together.
“I have my grandson and my daughter-in-law here tonight,” Maxwell said. “It’s wonderful to have everyone here having fun.”
Carter is a longtime member of Archie McCord Unit 86 of the American Legion Auxiliary in Bethpage.
After the awards ceremony, country band SixGun performed a series of country hits along with some country-style versions of old pop classics. Toward the end of their performance, the band acknowledged all the veterans in the audience and brought the crowd to their feet with their rendition of Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA.”
The event ended with a fireworks show over the park.
“This event is all about honoring America and our veterans,” said Town of Oyster Bay Commissioner Maureen Fitzgerald. “The fireworks were a perfect way to celebrate.”
Above: Town of Oyster Bay Veteran Volunteer of the Year award winner Jack Maxwell, 67, stands on the sidelines after receiving his award at the Salute to America Veterans Volunteer Awards held at John J. Burns Park in Massapequa. (July 17, 2012)