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HOLBROOK, NY (OnSachem.com / OnTownMedia.com) — The community came together this weekend to remember a Holbrook resident and 1965 Sachem High School graduate killed while serving in Vietnam. They honored his service to the country by dedicating a new sign at a historic monument built in his memory.

On Saturday, veterans, elected officials, Boy Scouts, and others gathered at the Holbrook Vietnam Monument on Grundy Avenue, located between Terry Boulevard and Clarice Boulevard.

The monument was built in 1971 in honor of U.S. Army Specialist 4th Class Alexander Nicholas DiGuardia (also spelled Di Guardia) of Holbrook. DiGuardia, a 1965 graduate of Sachem High School in Lake Ronkonkoma and a volunteer with the Holbrook Fire Department, was killed in 1967 while serving in the Vietnam War. He was the only military service personnel from Holbrook killed in action during the war. DiGuardia turned 21 years old several weeks before he paid the ultimate sacrifice.

OnSachem Publisher Jim Green brings you the story about this weekend’s dedication.

WATCH THE VIDEO

Interviews with:

George Stondell, Post Commander, AMVETS 1174 Holbrook

Rick Ammirati, President, Holbrook Chamber of Commerce

Sheila Di Guardia, Alexander Di Guardia’s Sister

Mike Pastore, Finance Officer, AMVETS 1174 Holbrook

Deborah Stondell, President, AMVETS Dept. of NY Ladies Auxiliary

Video Transcript:

Jim Green, OnSachem.com Publisher

Hey everyone, I'm Jim Green of OnSachem.com. We're in Holbrook along Grundy Avenue. The community came out today to dedicate a new sign here at the historic Holbrook Vietnam Monument.

(Speaker)

We are surrounded by the spirits of those who have served our country.

George Stondell, Post Commander, AMVETS 1174 Holbrook

The most important thing is he gave the ultimate sacrifice for the freedoms we have today for what people are actually doing around this country—it’s freedom of speech.

(NAT SOUND – Sign unveiling)

Rick Ammirati, President, Holbrook Chamber of Commerce

Alex DiGuardia [Alexander Nicholas DiGuardia, also spelled as Di Guardia], was a young man from Holbrook. He was involved with the Holbrook Fire Department, and he was a veteran that waskilled in action in 1967 in Vietnam.

Jim Green, OnSachem.com Publisher

And the new sign today, why put up a new sign? What made that decision happen?

Rick Ammirati, President, Holbrook Chamber of Commerce

Well the other sign is a little over 40 years old and the actual date that it was dedicated was 1971. This old sign had 1972. So it was time to set the record straight, if you will.

Jim Green, OnSachem.com Publisher

As Alex's Sister, why is this so important for you today?

Sheila Di Guardia, Alexander Di Guardia’s Sister 

Alex was in Sachem High School. He graduated in 65 from Sachem. And my uncle and my father and my brother. My brother was in the Vietnam War. And plus, he was also a fireman. 

Jim Green, OnSachem.com Publisher

Now what many people may not realize is that the Holbrook Vietnam Monument is truly historic. It's historic for New York State, and it's historic for the entire United States.

Right here in Holbrook—this monument—it was the very first one of its kind built in New York and the second of its kind anywhere in the United States to be built in honor of someone killed while serving in Vietnam.

Mike Pastore, Finance Officer, AMVETS 1174 Holbrook

That has major importance because it was done during a time when people in our country were berating the guys who were going to war. You know they were putting us down, putting them down at every turn. And this was erected in honor of a person who gave their life, the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.

Jim Green, OnSachem.com Publisher

You've been saying that an event like this today is a good opportunity to raise awareness of support for veterans in general. 

Deborah Stondell, President, AMVETS Dept. of NY Ladies Auxiliary

Yes. Too many of our veterans suffer from PTSD, which we consider a silent killer. During the pandemic, they're being left alone. Nobody is checking on them. [There are] too many suicides. We have the program 22 A Day, meaning 22 veterans a day commit suicide. We need to bring awareness that you need to check on our neighbors, our veterans, you need to get them out, get them involved. Don't let them just sit home. They need the support of your community. And as a friend, they need your friendship sometimes just to sit with them. 

Jim Green, OnSachem.com Publisher

The Holbrook Vietnam Monument is always open. You can come here on any day at any time. When you're here, you can pay your respects to those who served in Vietnam and remember all of our veterans from all wars.

The monument is located on Grundy Avenue. It's between Terry Boulevard and Clarice Boulevard. In Holbrook, I'm Jim Green, OnSachem.com.

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