2009-07-03 / Columnists

From The Councilman's Desk

Rockaway Welcomes Wounded Warriors
Commentary By Councilman Eric Ulrich

ERIC ULRICH ERIC ULRICH I want to extend a heartfelt and patriotic July 4 welcome to all the participants in the upcoming 5th Annual Wounded Warrior Adaptive Water Sports Festival. How fitting it is for the Rockaway peninsula to gear up for the arrival of such heroic Marines and soldiers as we celebrate our great nation's birth. The event will take place between Thursday, July 9 and Sunday, July 12. I hope all Rockawayites can participate at some level in this noble endeavor.

This outstanding event would not be possible without the dedication and determination of the Rockaway Graybeards. The Graybeards exemplify what true community spirit can accomplish when properly harnessed. Their charitable works are legendary, and I tip my hat to the organization's co-founder and present president, Steve Stathis, along with his exceptionally hardworking members. Steve is joined by a huge following of dedicated locals who give back so much for all twelve months of the year. Their efforts make a great difference in the life of Rockaway.

Simply put, freedom is not free. It may sound like a cliché, but when you think about it, it is true. The wounded warriors who will soon visit us have had their lives altered in unimaginable ways. These brave Marines and soldiers have answered our nation's call, and our tribute to them is proper and fitting.

For those who may not know, the wounded veterans from the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan descend upon the Rockaways once a year to participate in a host of water related activities over several days. Such activities include fishing, water skiing, scuba diving, kayaking, and sailing. Each warrior is hosted by a Rockaway family and is provided nothing less than royal treatment. To all the host families, I say, "Thank you" for your generosity towards our nation's bravest.

Along with the daytime water activities will be several key evening events. On Thursday night, the participating veterans will be part of a parade which will conclude at the Belle Harbor Yacht Club. Here they will be officially greeted and meet their host families. On Friday evening, a special dinner is scheduled for Sheepshead Bay in Brooklyn. Saturday night will be set aside for a festive Rockaway block party, while Sunday morning will provide a farewell open-air Mass before the warriors visit Manhattan.

For more information please contact the Graybeards at 1-877- GRAYBEARDS or visit them online at www.graybeards.com.

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