In November of 2010 I returned to the military- well,
somewhat. This evolved out of Frank's second run for the U.S. Congress
here in the 4th Congressional District. His campaign was, unfortunately, doomed to failure due to the nature of those who called themselves the Nassau County Republican Committee. They bore a great resemblance to Tammany Hall, and operated in a similar manner. Their belief was that those who ran for public office, no matter how qualified, owed a debt of gratitude to the 'party'- and this debt could be a large monetary donation to their coffers. Although Frank was a constitutional scholar and eminently qualified for the office, they decided to blindside him with a primary and a smear campaign, one of their special skills. Understandably, with the deck now stacked against him, it would be impossible for him to win. In retrospect, we would have been happy if he changed course after the loss, but his heart has always been in public service, and the district has been deprived of a good representative due to the attitude of the 'leaders' of the party. Nothing has changed, and Nassau County politics is known well to this day for it's corruption and power structure.
During the summer of 2010
I was quite busy with Frank's campaign, and attending events was a big
part of getting him known in the district. During the summer there are
many events scheduled for veterans at locations on Long Island, and the
first one we attended was the Annual Salute to the Veterans at
Eisenhower Park. After we arrived at the park, we suspended the handing
out of literature after deciding that this was not the venue for that
purpose. After the concert, we stopped and spoke with a group of about
eight veterans who had been the Color Guard for the opening of the
concert. One of them was Sal Martella, a Vietnam veteran who was a
member of several organizations including the American Legion Post 1033
in Elmont, NY. I've always wanted to be part of a veterans' group, and
was never able to join as most of the organizations wanted their members
to have served in boots-on-the-ground capacity. According to Sal, the
Legion had modified it's membership requirements a few years earlier,
and the requirement was simply to have been a member of the military
during specified time periods, and to possess an honorable discharge. I
qualified under those conditions, and sent for a copy of my discharge
papers the next day.
The next year was an amazing year! On the first Monday
in November, I visited the post for one of their meetings, and decided
there and then to join. I met a great bunch of vets, and was initiated
that evening. It didn't take long to immerse myself in the post's
activities, and my shop background led me to begin repairing many things
in the building. After about three months they elected me to be a
trustee- one of the five persons responsible for maintaining the post.
Within about a month of my joining, Rosanne decided to
join the Ladies Auxiliary, so we were now both involved with the post.
She has since transferred her membership to a different post where she
feels more productive. She also became active with the Nassau County
Ladies' Ausiliary, and participates in their Color Guard for events and
Now things begin to move into areas which I never
expected. Sal was a member of the Legion Riders at the post, and he and
the other riders were bugging me to get a motorcycle and join the
group. History being what it was, I had ridden back in the 1960s, and
for many years had wanted to get wheels. After forty years with no
cycle, I decided to take the two-day motorcycle riding course offered by
Trama's Auto School at the Nassau Coliseum location in order to get the
motorcycle endorsement on my license. I spent two days riding in the
rain, and at the end of the class they administered the written and road
tests, and I got my certificate. I immediately proceeded to the Motor
Vehicle Department office in Massapequa to get the official endorsement.
Now I was able to seriously begin looking for wheels. I
went on cycletrader.com and found a 1974 Yamaha VStar 1100 in New
Jersey, but when I called, I was told that I was the second caller, and
that I would be notified if the first caller decided against
purchasing. Not being one to let grass grow under my feet and wait, I
went back online and found another one, same model but one year newer.
This one was located at a dealership in Bensalem, PA. Here is where the
story gets a little amazing.
I called the dealership and told the salesperson on the
phone that I was interested in the cycle, and that I had seen the
pictures and specs online, but wanted his opinion of the bike. He told
me that it had come in on a trade about two days earlier, and that it
was in perfect condition. That was all I needed to hear. I asked if I
could place a deposit on the bike to hold it, and would make
arrangements to pick it up later in the week. After replying in the
affirmative, he asked my name. When I responded, he paused and asked me
two questions: Did I ever live in Valley Stream? Yes. Did I have a
brother named Pete? Yes, again. His next statement was, "My name is
Daniel Acevedo." You could have knocked me over with a feather! Dan
was my next-door neighbor when I lived in Valley Stream almost forty
years earlier! Talk about that 'small world' thing- it doesn't get
better than this! Needless to say, Dan was able to reduce the price of
the bike by several hundred dollars.
It's interesting how one never forgets certain skills,
and one of them is riding a motorcycle. I had ridden my buddy Charlie's
Honda 305 back in the sixties, and did not ride for the next four
decades. The 305 weighed about 200 lbs. It was a light bike. When I
took the riding class, we rode Suziki 250 bikes, also quite light. The
Yamaha 1100 weighs 650 lbs, and it considered a heavy bike. This had no
effect on my decision to buy it- at almost six feet tall and just over
200 lbs, I really needed a heavy bike. A lighter one would have been
less comfortable for me, and I was looking for a cruiser rather than a
On the following Monday, I drove down to Bensalem,
rented a trailer, and brought the bike home to New Hyde Park. Up until
this time I had not ridden it, but knew it would not be a great feat to
adjust to it. I pulled up in front of my house at about 7:15 in the
evening, and had a Legion meeting at 8:00 in Elmont. Was I going to
leave the bike home and drive to the meeting in my truck? Heck no! I
dropped the tailgate of the trailer, backed the bike off and started it
to warm it up. While it was warming up, I went into the house, got my
jacket, gloves and helmet, and proceeded to the meeting. This was the
first time I had ridden the bike, and it took about five minutes to
acclimate myself to its feel. Now I feel totally comfortable any time I
ride, and we participate in many events that I'll describe in greater
detail later on.
That was not the end of my volunteerism, however. More
veterans' group involvement was a natural progression for me, and I can
give credit to Sal Martella for most of it! In November, I joined the
Vietnam War Veterans Association of Nassau County, and became extremely
active with the group. They are truly a 'band of brothers', and the
best bunch of guys around, bar none! To say that I was 'active' is an
understatement. At the end of my first year, I was awarded a plaque for
Volunteer of the Year, and I am extremely proud of that!
The following year, I became active with the Nassau
County American Legion. I was immediately asked to take over the
Education & Scholarship Committee, and now in 2017, have been in
charge of that committee. This entails communication with all of the
high schools in Nassau County to advertise the annual scholarship,
requesting donations from all Legion Posts in the county, and
determining who the winning candidate will be.
In addition, during the 2015-16 Legion year, County Commander Steve McManus asked me to serve as his chaplain during his year in office, and I gladly accepted the position. That service has given me additional perspective regarding the Legion, and it is both a solemn and rewarding position. As part of the assignment, I was also required to organize and carry out the annual Four Chaplains ceremony- a wonderful experience, and something that every person should attend, veteran or not! It is staged on the second Sunday of February.
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