The City of Rye and Rye American Legion Post 128 invite the community to join them the morning of Monday, May 29 in honoring and remembering those military members who lost their lives serving our country.
The Rye American Legion Post Auxiliary has organized a parade, featuring Legionnaires, marching bands, cyclists, classic cars, Rye Boy and Girl Scouts, and local government officials. The parade begins at 9:30 at the train station and ends at City Hall.
Post Commander Fred de Barros will open the ceremony on the Village Green after which Mayor Josh Cohn, County Executive George Latimer, and Assemblyman Steve Otis will offer welcoming remarks and greetings.
The principal speaker is U.S. Navy veteran Howard Heyel who enlisted in the United States Naval Reserves in his senior year at Rye High School.
During the Vietnam War, he was called to active duty where he was assigned to the USS Rushmore (LSD-14), sixth fleet Amphibious Forces, serving as an 2nd Class Electronics Technician.
Following his honorable discharge, and while employed at AT&T, he embarked on his American Legion career. He chaired various committees and was elected as Commander at the Post, County, District, and Department levels. Currently, he serves as Treasurer of the Westchester County American Legion.
Always active in the Rye community where he and his wife Sue raised their four children, he volunteered as a Little League and Rye Girls Softball coach and Rye Boy Scouts leader and was a member of the City’s Traffic and Safety Commission. A certified CPR instructor, Mr. Heyel was an EMT with the Port Chester-Rye-Rye Brook Volunteer Ambulance Corps. Currently, he is Treasurer of the Rye Senior Citizen Club.
At the ceremony, the 2023 American Legion Americanism Award will be presented to James “Duke” Dianni.
The award recognizes a citizen “who is a living example of the American Legion values of law and order, the raising of wholesome youth, educated and law-abiding citizenship, and respectful observance of patriotic holidays and remembrances,” noted Commander de Barros.
Mr. Dianni was born and raised in Rye. He attended Resurrection School and graduated from Rye High School, class of 1968.
He served with the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War, from 1970-71; his unit was dispatched to South Vietnam after the Tet Offensive to replace a U.S. Marine Corps unit. When his unit deployed for action, it operated in Cam Lộ, Đông Hà, Quảng Trị, and Khe Sanh. One hundred fifty-three members of the regiment were killed. Mr. Dianni was awarded the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart, and the Combat Infantry Badge.
Following an honorable discharge, he returned home to Rye. In 1973, he began a 39-year career with the Rye Fire Department. He was the first career officer in the history of the Department. He spent decades teaching Rye students the importance of fire safety and retired as Rye’s Chief Fire Inspector.
For 14 years, he broadcast Garnet Football games on local cable television. He also coached Rye Babe Ruth League, Rye Girls Softball, Rye Youth Soccer, and CYO Basketball.
In 2012 he was on the founding committee of the Rye World War II Veterans Project. Last November, as a veteran and veteran advocate, he attended a Veterans Day service at Resurrection Church at which some 300 students participated, and he was right in the middle of the flag-waving throng.
The ceremony will include the traditional reading of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. Michael Talbott of Rye High School will play Taps.
Legionnaire Terry McCartney will read the Roll of Honor. Robin Latimer, president of the Rye American Legion Auxiliary, will lead the crowd in song.
Karenna Chader, winner of The John M. Kingery Memorial Day Essay Contest Award, will share her perspective on the significance of Memorial Day.
The program will also include recognition of Eagle Scouts Daniel Pellegrini, Brendan Kirk, and Harrison Gelinas, who will receive the American Legion Good Citizen Citation.
Later that day, Commander de Barros will honor veterans buried at the John Jay Estate.
Rye Post 128, chartered on July 16, 1919, was the first veteran’s organization in the City of Rye. Among the original members were Stuyvesant Wainwright, Martin F. Kirby, and J. Mayhew Wainwright. Since that time Post 128 has provided uninterrupted volunteer services to our community and its veterans.
The Rye Sons of American Legion (SAL) was chartered in 2021. SAL members include males of all ages whose parents or grandparents served in the U.S. military and were eligible for American Legion membership. SAL places an emphasis on preserving American traditions and values, improving the quality of life for our nation’s children, caring for veterans and their families, and teaching the fundamentals of good citizenship.