JoAnn Quattrone, the Orange County dentist who filled several suitcases with life-saving medical donations for Vietnam last month, was one of the honored guests at the Spring Valley Rotary Club’s holiday party last week. Rotarian Ed Frank of Congers, who is also president of Rockland County’s Vietnam Veterans of America, presented her with an award in recognition for her contributions to the humanitarian trip our group took last month. Click on the audio link below the picture to hear Rotarian/veteran Howard Goldin during the presentation.
Well, it turns out that Quattrone isn’t only a dentist and a humanitarian: she’s also a songwriter! Click on the video link below to watch Howard Goldin, my father and the other reunited members of our group take a stab at the anthem she wrote about the trip. Better yet, read the words first by clicking on the “Read More” tab at the bottom of this post – you’ll need them!
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The first time I remember talking with my father about a return to Vietnam was in 1997, 30 years after he went there as an Army officer with the 25th Infantry Division. We both love to travel internationally, but school, work, weddings, and other family plans kept postponing our father-daughter trip. A decade later, we finally got to Cu Chi, and our personal pilgrimage – along with the stories of other local veterans who decided to make the journey – provided the basis for my multimedia reporting project for The Journal News.
Many other veterans have also spent years thinking about returning to Vietnam, but haven’t done so yet for personal or professional reasons. They include two men I interviewed last month: Dan Griffin of White Plains (left), and Jim Murphy of South Nyack (right, below). I’m still interested in telling their stories, and I’m not alone: at a Newswomen’s Club of New York event recently, I met Sheridan Prasso, a reporter for Fortune magazine who has worked in Southeast Asia. She’s a fan of this blog, and also wants to talk to Vietnam veterans thinking about going back to Vietnam for the first time.
In the spirit of journalistic cooperation – not to mention creating good karma! – I’m launching her request into the blogosphere. Click here to visit her Web site, including some of her business stories about Vietnam. If you want to get in touch with her, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
The adults we met in Vietnam thanked us profusely for the donations of life-saving medical devices, vitamins, clothing and school supplies our group collected and distributed to orphanages, schools and villages last month, but of course it was the gifts of Beanie Babies, yo-yos, volleyballs and other toys that brought joy to children everywhere we went.
Hoping to bring some smiles to local faces this month, Debby Roland-Frank (left) of Congers and other friends and members of the Rockland County chapter of the Vietnam Veterans of America will give out toys and host a Christmas party on Dec. 13 for underprivileged children at the Rainbow Connection Child Care Learning Center in Nanuet, NY.
VVA Chapter 333 will supply snacks and drinks for the party, where members will hand out about $1,000 worth of donated toys for children whose parents make a combined income below $15,000.
Last holiday season, VVA333 members gave gifts to more than 80 kids at the annual event, along with 120 families in Haverstraw.
Anyone interested in helping out or getting more information can leave a message for VVA member Howard Goldin at (845) 371-7605.
My father has joined Westchester County’s chapter of the Vietnam Veterans of America just in time for the holidays and a new local VVA tradition: Chapter 49 has decided to join Wreaths Across America, a national nonprofit organization that aims to lay wreaths on all the headstones at Arlington National Cemetery.
The national ceremony will take place at noon Dec. 15. At that time, Chapter 49 will also lay wreaths at Lasdon Park, on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the other military memorial statues on the Somers, NY property.
Dan Griffin, Chapter 49’s executive director, also told me the group plans to hold its 20th annual candlelight vigil at the park on Dec. 23. The VVA members will light candles along the Trail of Honor and read all of the names of the 214 Westchester County residents killed in the Vietnam War.
“We hold this holiday celebration for those who did not make it back from ‘Nam,” Griffin said.