The green light blazing atop Southold’s American Legion Post 803 is a symbol, burning bright in support of those who have given the ultimate sacrifice for the nation’s freedom.
It’s also just one way local business owners and residents are coming together to give a heartfelt “thank you” to American’s heroes on Veterans Day tomorrow.
The Greenlight A Vet program asks residents to change one light to green in a visible location on their homes or offices, whether it be on a porch or in a window, and to keep it glowing in support of veterans.
Locally, Tracey Orlando has spearheaded an initiative; currently, she has 14 green lights that she’s selling for a minimum of $20. All proceeds will go to repaving the Southold American Legion’s parking lot.
The Legion’s Joe St. Pierre, a contractor for more than 50 years, said he’s been working on the project. So far, the Legion only has enough to put in drainage and repave the front parking lot and driveways; the total cost of the entire project, including the rear parking lot, is approximately $50,000.
Both parking lots, he said, are in “bad condition. They haven’t been done in 20 years.”
The condition of the lots makes for treacherous walking conditions, especially for the elderly who might be frequenting the Legion.
“We’ve done some repairs,” St. Pierre said. “Funding is difficult for us.”
To that end, the Ladies Auxiliary held a car show this year; they recently presented a check for $6,800 to the Legion for the parking lot project.
Meanwhile, the green light bulbs are hard to find, with local stores reporting a run on the item near Veterans Day.
“When there’s a need for our veterans, we’re all asked to do something, so this is something I decided to do,” Orlando said, adding that individuals can also buy a lightbulb for a veteran.
Anyone hoping to purchase a green light bulb can contact Orlando at 631-599-2704.
During the service, the Ladies Auxiliary will present a $10,000 check to the Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind’s America’s VetDogs program.
America’s VetDogs is a not-for-profit organization that serves the needs of disabled veterans; VetDogs provides dogs for those who are blind or have low vision; hearing dogs; service dogs for those with other physical disabilities; facility dogs as part of the rehabilitation process in military and VA hospitals, and PTSD dogs to help mitigate effects of post-traumatic stress syndrome, with an eye toward providing physical and emotional support.
A veteran and his dog will be at the ceremony, said Denise Thilberg of the Southold American Legion’s Ladies Auxiliary, to help demonstrate how the four-legged friend is trained to help in all situations. A dog can even help a veteran who may have fallen, she said.
Free meals for vets
At the Six Three One restaurant, located at 62375 Main Road in Southold, owners Patty and Archie Dellaportas are offering free meals from a select menu for veterans all day tomorrow, from 9 a.m. until 10 p.m.
“It was my husband’s idea,” Dellaportas said, adding that the goal was “to say thank you.”
Her grandfather was a veteran; the couple has offered the free meals at their Queens location, too. “We have a lot of veterans,” she said. “We’re very red, white and blue. We believe in karma — what goes around, comes around. They gave to us, so we give to them.”
At Lucharitos on Main Street, veterans and active military can enjoy a dinner entree, either any one item from the menu or three tacos, for free on Veterans Day from 5:30 p.m. until 10 p.m. “We humbly thank you all for your sacrifices,” said owner Marc LaMaina. “The least we can do is buy you dinner.”
In East Marion, veterans can eat free anytime tomorrow, choosing any item off the regular menu at Hellenic Snack Bar & Restaurant.
Profits for the Greenport American Legion
In Greenport, Linda Kessler, who owns Kessie, said she’s been donating 10 percent of all sales for a full week — which includes both weekends — to the American Legion’s Burton Potter Post 185 in the village.
Kessler said she did the same thing last year, to honor veterans, and with the hope of seeing the Post, where children once roller skated, reborn.
“I’d like to see them get it done. I think it’s important for the community. They’re chugging along, really putting in their efforts, so I’m happy to do it for them,” she said.