Bronx Week Kicks Off with Heartfelt Veterans Appreciation Luncheon
The Bronx Week Veterans Appreciation Luncheon marked the beginning of the anticipated Bronx Week festivities, paying tribute to the brave men and women who have served in the armed forces. The event, held annually, holds special significance as it recognizes the sacrifices made by those who fought in various wars on behalf of the United States. The occasion commenced with a poignant moment, featuring a dedicated table to honor fallen soldiers who never returned home.
Emceed by the esteemed Mr. Gary Axelbank, the Veterans Appreciation Luncheon witnessed the introduction of distinguished speakers and honorees. Following a heartfelt rendition of the National Anthem by veteran Belinda Barnes, Bishop Rosario delivered an invocation. A solemn moment of silence ensued as the names of fallen soldiers from the previous year were read aloud. Continuing the proceedings, Mr. Axelbank acknowledged the presence of notable guests, including Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark and Deputy Bronx Borough President Janet Peguero. He then introduced Bronx Borough President Vanessa L. Gibson.
Borough President Gibson commenced her address, stating, “Today, we gather to celebrate and express gratitude to the courageous men and women who have served our country in the armed forces.” She invited members from each branch of the armed forces to acknowledge their service, with resounding cheers emerging from those who had served in the U.S. Army. President Gibson highlighted the importance of her Veterans Advisory Committee and expressed her efforts to designate November as Veterans Appreciation Month, extending the appreciation beyond a single day.
Joe Mondello, Chair of the Veterans Advisory Committee, took the stage to emphasize the significance of the vacant table at the front, symbolizing the fallen soldiers who never returned from war while defending the nation.
Distinguished speakers, including Vivian De Cohen, the Director of New York State Veterans Services, James Hendon from the NYC Department of Veterans Services, Balavenkatesh Kanna MD, MPH, the Director of the Bronx VA Medical Center, and Wendy McClinton, CEO of the Black Veterans for Social Justice (the keynote speaker), addressed the audience. The event culminated with the recognition of five honorees: Mrs. Roxanne Gonzalez-Jimenez, Courtney Lanier, Dondi McKellar USN(MST), Sidney T. Clark, and Ed Deglomini.
In her closing remarks, Bronx Borough President Vanessa L. Gibson invited Pastor Jay Gooding to deliver the closing prayer. The festivities of Bronx Week will continue until Sunday, featuring the highly anticipated Bronx Week Parade, Food Festival, and Concert along the Grand Concourse from East 167th Street through East 158th Street. For a comprehensive calendar of events for Bronx Week 2023, please visit Ilovethebronx.com.
By Robert Press