So there I was, sitting with my Cousin and my Godfather struggling to get through an Islanders Game. I was maybe back from Iraq for two years, and in the middle of heavy therapy.
Since I found a great atmosphere in the Northport VA and was not happy with my treatment in Colorado, my wife and I decided it would be better for me to head back to New York and get established in a solid outpatient program. She still had time left in the Army and we did not have any children yet, though she was pregnant. I left her to try and get right. It was not an easy decision, but in hindsight we both feel it was the right one.
But, back to the game. As I sat fidgeting around trying to stay calm I began examining the rafters of the Nassau Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum. There are huge white banners commemorating a number of Islanders and Nassau Coliseum events. The four Stanley Cups, Al Arbor’s win total, and Billy Joel’s sold out concerts all adorn the ceiling with gigantic tributes to these milestones. When I looked a little closer I saw another small flag tucked up amongst the giants. It was a POW/MIA flag. It was filthy and it pissed me off.
I remember pointing it out to my cousin and Uncle and then trying to find someone to talk to about the dirty flag. This was the Nassau VETERANS Memorial Coliseum. It was debatable that the flag should be bigger, it was a sin that the flag was dirty. Unacceptable.
I left the game miffed. It would not end there.
I wrote a letter each week for months. I outlined my disappointment with the flag and asked for the stadium to rectify the situation.
I am a romantic and a sap. I was hoping for much more press or good will from the Nassau Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum. I had imagined getting a call from someone to take me and some other Veterans into the rafters and see the bigger better flag. (Their American Flag could probably use a cleaning too)
Instead, with little fanfare I got a letter back from the marketing manager letting me know they would fix the problem of the dirty flag. It was disappointed in the missed opportunity. They could have made a bigger deal about the flag. They could have gotten a larger flag and brought me and other Veterans in to see it. Instead I got a half page letter and nothing more. But, at least that sacred flag would get the attention it deserved.
You Are Not Forgotten
I have a bunch of buddies that went through SERE C (Survival Evasion Resistance Escape) school. All of them upon graduation went and bought the POW/MIA flag. They felt it was the least they could do having received a small sample of the torture many Vietnam Vets endured for years. I also have a number of Vietnam Veteran friends. They hold their flags with almost as much reverence as Old Glory. I don’t think most American’s truly realize the sacrifice and hardship symbolized by POW/MIA flag.
I went back to the Coliseum last year for the Circus with my boys. The flag looks better and I am happy that my small letter writing campaign got results. Yesterday the residents of Nassau voted down the bid to rebuild the Nassau Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum. I am saddened that the taxpayers of Nassau saw the vote as strictly a hike in their taxes.
Again, the romantic in me was hoping that they would see the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum as their responsibility and continue to pay tribute the Veterans of Long Island. It’s not named Islanders arena, Wang arena or Optimum Online Arena. It is the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum… but not for much longer.