On Veterans Day, November 11, 2020, VFW Post 10209 held a ceremony honoring our nation’s veterans. There was also a special groundbreaking for two memorials dedicated to chaplains who have lost their lives in service to their country.
The ceremony began with an honor guard of veterans presenting the colors. Steve Brown, Post Commander was the Master of Ceremonies and VFW District Chief of Staff, Ken Greenlee was the guest speaker.
In his remarks, Greenlee stated, “It’s the veteran who gave us the right to freedom of speech, the right to protest, the right to bear arms.”
He continued, “We’ve got to remember our families too – the husbands, the wives, the daughters, the children. When these men and women went into combat, they too were troops supporting you at home while you were gone.”
After Greenlee’s remarks Post Chaplain Ted Ryon, Jr. gave a benediction.
Father Ed Shellito prayed an invocation to begin the ceremony honoring the fallen chaplains and Gabriella Hieb, chaplain for the VFW Auxiliary presented information about the two chaplains that were being honored.
Father Vincent Capodanno, a Navy chaplain, was killed in the Vietnam War. Despite being wounded, himself, he aided and ministered to the injured and dying. Then, he saved the life of a fallen Marine by shielding the man’s body and suffered fatal wounds. For his bravery, Capodanno received the Congressional Medal of Honor.
Father Mychal Judge, the chaplain to the New York Fire Department, lost his life in the terrorist attacks of 9/11. When he heard that the World Trade Center had been hit, Father Judge immediately went to Ground Zero. There he offered aid and prayers for the rescuers, the injured, and the dead. He was killed by debris that went flying through the lobby of the North Tower.
Immediately after the gathering inside the VFW Hall, everyone assembled outside for the groundbreaking of the memorials to the two chaplains. Representatives from the New York City Fire Department, as well as local firefighters broke the ground for Father Mychal Judge’s memorial which will be dedicated on September 11, 2021, the twentieth anniversary of the terror attacks. Post Commander Steve Brown; Auxiliary President, Nancy Sellars; Post Chaplain, Ted Ryon, Jr.; and Veterans’ Advocate, Diana Gibbs broke ground for Father Vincent Capodanno’s memorial which will be dedicated on Memorial Day next year.
Most people associate war heroes with those who carry a weapon and fight. However, chaplains like Father Capodanno and Father Judge also carry a powerful weapon – faith.