NEW YORK, Jan. 7, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- On a muddy, misty December morning much like the battlefield of World War II they came together to honor veterans, elected officials, living historians and Steve Napolitano, President and CEO of First Nationwide Title Agency, gathered at the Museum of American Armor at Old Bethpage Village Restoration to pay tribute to the Americans who withstood a murderous assault by German ground and armor forces during the winter of 1944.
Napolitano's father was in General Patton's Third Army that helped win what history now calls the Battle of the Bulge, belying the horrific casualties suffered by American forces with some 19,000 G.I.'s killed and many more wounded. In the face of overwhelming firepower small groups of Americans with incredible courage prevented the German's march on Antwerp while waiting for reinforcements that brought ultimate victory.
Napolitano, a resident of Rockville Centre, explained, "I chose to stand here with these veterans because I know what they accomplished through courage and sacrifice in the snows of Belgium almost 70 years ago. My Dad fought in Europe and I believe everyone in America has a direct connection to the events of World War II. This tribute and the armor museum now being built will give us all better insight into that conflict and why we can never forget the lessons that generation continue to teach us."
As reporters gathered in the muddy park field three World War II armored vehicles rumbled from behind the trees and positioned themselves in front of the podium. A crane with the American flag flying from its steelwork rose in the air as aging veterans snapped a razor sharp salute at the command of veteran Jack Hayne.
Business, government and law gather to honor our vets
Among those joining Napolitano were State Senator Charles Fuschillo and Assemblyman Chuck Lavine who braved bleak weather to shake the hands of the vets who attended, including a much later generation of G.I.'s who served in Vietnam. Also joining them were leaders in law and business; Eileen Daly, Esq. who serves as the museum's pro bono adjutant general and.
Museum President and founder Lawrence Kadish stated, "When I was a kid growing up in Brooklyn during World War II the worst thing that could happen would be the arrival of a telegram. They knew – without being told a word – that a telegram in wartime was about death. After the Battle of the Bulge there were a lot of telegrams. More than 19,000 of them. That battle remains a part of World War II that few talk about today and fewer still understand it. Yet it was about a murderous Nazi counter attack and the raw courage of American G.I's who withstood it."
Staggering losses yet the line held
Senator Fuschillo told the audience, "In weather far colder than this – in conditions that were lethal – unsuspecting American G.'I.'s found themselves the target of a massive counter offensive by the German Army in December 1944. Before the Germans were thrown back nearly 19,000 American troops would die – the number remains staggering but few Americans today appreciate what it took to hold the line and prevent the Germans from breaking through to the English Channel."
Assemblyman Lavine agreed, "It is fitting and appropriate that we should gather here – on this bleak winter day – and offer our thanks to those who made sure that Hitler's last desperate gamble was a failure."
The Museum of American Armor is scheduled to open its doors in the spring of 2014 and will feature almost 30 operational armor vehicles. Napolitano is a supporter of the museum and its mission. "It's about my dad, and your dad, or grandfather, in short, it's about everyone's family."
SOURCE First Nationwide Title Agency