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Long Island Sound
Steel Monuments to Our Veterans’ Sacrifice
Many years ago, my grandfather served our country in World War II. Originally, he was just a kid from the Bronx, but he ended up being stationed in Europe as a member of the military police. I remember only once hearing him talk about some of what he witnessed during his time of service overseas. He spoke about fanatical Nazi prisoners refusing to back down on their ideologies. He spoke about the French people whom he saw being publicly humiliated and punished when the war ended because they were suspected of collaborating with the enemy. He spoke about the shock of viewing recently-liberated concentration camps. Needless to say, he saw things that nobody should ever have to see. Since Veterans Day this month, I’ve been reflecting on the many sacrifices the people of our armed services have made, and the risks they have taken over the years for all of us. It’s especially been on my mind since I recently took a trip to the Museum of American Armor here in Long Island. The museum, located next to Old Bethpage Village Restoration, is packed with a variety of authentic military vehicles from WWII. It has everything from massive, hulking tanks to smaller Jeeps and even bicycles used by army personnel during the war. Most of the items on display have been completely restored to their original condition. There are restoration projects currently underway that can also be viewed. I was humbled as I moved amongst pieces of history that had lain dormant for years, but still carried an air of gravitas from their years in action. I was invited to take a tour of the museum by my fellow Hearing Center of Long Island audiologist Dr. Lorraine Rein and her husband,
Jeff. Jeff is an expert on these historical military vehicles and often volunteers at the museum, giving tours. He led us through the museum and shared his wealth of knowledge about nearly every vehicle we passed and the history associated with them. During our tour, we saw amazing pieces of history. For example, we stopped at a Sherman tank, the workhorse of the time. It had less firepower and was not as durable as the German Panzers, but the U.S. made a lot more of the Shermans and had better supporting air power. The vehicle that I was most interested in was the M8 Greyhound, an armed scout vehicle used by generals like George Patton as modern-day cavalry. They were the first American vehicles to arrive at the concentration camps in Europe when they were liberated. Standing in front of it, I could not help but imagine the relief those prisoners felt as the Greyhounds rolled into view. At one point, Jeff led me to an impressive WWII ambulance. It was painted olive drab with a red medical cross painted on its side and was completely and authentically restored, down to the stretcher inside. He had restored it himself
and transformed it from an old, beat-up junkyard scrap to a full-fledged, period-accurate vehicle. He spoke about a recent visitor to the museum who had driven one of those ambulances in the war and his emotional reaction to seeing one again. He told Jeff that he truly appreciated his efforts to restore the vehicle, as it brought back a lot of powerful memories for him. Sacrifice is one of the personal qualities I admire most in others, whether they are military personnel or not. Many veterans, like my grandfather, don’t talk much about their experiences from wartime. It doesn’t mean they haven’t made real sacrifices for the rest of us. Veterans Day is an opportunity we should not miss to recognize all those who have sacrificed and taken risks for us by serving our country. The American Museum of Armor is located at 1303 Round Swap Road, Old Bethpage, New York, and is open Wednesday through Sunday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. You can call them at (516) 454-8265 or visit their website at museumofamericanarmor.com – We’re listening to you.®
–Lawrence Cardano, Au.D.
Dr. Lorraine, Jeff, and Dr. Larry at the museum
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