With COVID-19 still around, village officials and members of the Mineola Chamber of Commerce came together at village hall last week to introduce this year’s inductee to the John S. DaVanzo Wall of Honor. Usually dedicating one person a year to the Wall of Honor, this year was a little different when the chamber and the village honored Mineola’s essential and front line workers.
The plaque is dedicated to the village’s essential and frontline workers who continued to work during the COVID-19 pandemic, which ravaged the communtiy and the country when they could have simply stayed at home.
“They saved countless lives in our hospitals; they kept stores open so we could eat; buy cleaning supplies and retrieve our medications,” the plaque reads. “They kept our lights on; they kept our drinking water clean and flowing; they kept our streets clean from rubbish and disease; they risked their lives so we could continue to live ours and feel safe. The entire Mineola community thanks each and every one of them.”
The John S. DaVanzo Wall of Honor is the brainchild of former chamber president Tony Lubrano.
“There are a lot of things that make this village exemplary,” Lubrano said at the dedication ceremony. “Some people can say the world-class hospital, the transportation hub that we have here, the highly-awarded library, but I believe it is the people. Specifically, the people on this wall now and those who will be joining in years to come. On behalf of the chamber of commerce, it is a real honor to be collaborating on this project with Mayor Scott Strauss and the village board to make this happen. It is really exciting to watch as this wall is filled in.”
Former mayor of Mineola and Senator Jack Martins was also on-hand at the ceremony to speak about the importance of the John S. DaVanzo Wall of Honor.
“Recently, I was thinking about what John would say about the days and times we’re living in,” he said. “John lived a life of service, so when you think about emergency responders, first responders, essential workers of today that we celebrate that got us through this pandemic, people check every box of John DaVanzo and understand what he did. He didn’t just join the fire department, he was there in its infancy. He helped make it what it is [today].
Strauss, who is also a first responder, a part of the Emergency Services Unit (ESU), and a well-decorated officer within the NYPD, who also responded to 9/11, said that it is never easy to just pick one recipient a year for the Wall of Honor.
“This year, because of what’s going on with the pandemic, it makes it even more difficult,” he explained. “The committee met with all these applications and weighed a lot of things. And because of the significance of the events that we’re going through here, they decided to recognize not one person, but a group. We have a group of food service workers, we have a group of firefighters, police officers and first responders.”
He added, “The committee wanted to acknowledge our DPW workers, our store workers who continue to make sure that we eat, the lights go on, the garbage gets picked up—all of the things we take for granted from day-to-day continue. All of those essential workers and frontline workers is what the committee wanted to recognize. For 2020, the essential frontline workers are the people that we’re going to recognize this evening.”
After unveiling the plaque to the small gathering, Mineola Chamber of Commerce president Joel Harris offered some closing words.
“Next year, we’ll hopefully go back to where we’ve been,” he said. “They talk about a ‘new’ normal and this is not a new normal for me. We want to see everyone back in here shoulder-to-shoulder, elbow-to-elbow, and recognize our next person next year.”