PROGRAMS AND EVENTS
The Long Island Room is pleased to announce its 2017 Program Series, "Long Island at War". To register for a program, click on the title.
Smithtown During World War I
Thursday, March 30, 2017, 7:00- 8:30 pm
When President Woodrow Wilson went before Congress on April 2, 1917 to request a declaration of war against Germany, the Town of Smithtown, like so many other communities around the nation, began to ready itself for the impending battle and accompanying hardships that lay ahead. Young men registered for the draft, reporting to local military camps for basic training before being shipped overseas. On the home front, the citizens of Smithtown supported the war effort by organizing a chapter of the American Red Cross, assembling food and clothing drives, and purchasing war bonds. Smithtown Town Historian, Brad Harris will lead off this year’s Long Island Room Program Series by discussing these and the many other contributions Smithtown’s local residents made during the "Great War".
Preparing Long Island for War: The U. S. Military Training Facility at Camp Upton
Thursday, April 27, 2017, 7:00- 8:30 pm
In 1917, as the United States prepared to enter World War I, there was an urgent need to mobilize troops and train them for battle. To meet this need, military bases were erected throughout the country. On Long Island, Camp Upton, located in Yaphank, was used to train soldiers from the New York area, among them, beloved American songwriter, Irving Berlin, who composed the military-themed musical "Yip! Yip Yaphank!" while stationed there. Learn more about the history of Long Island’s Camp Upton as Paul Infranco, retired Longwood Central School District social studies teacher and volunteer at Brookhaven National Lab, examines the important role it played in training United States servicemen during World War I, as well as its functions during World War II and its eventual conversion to the lab in 1947.
The Benson House: A Secret FBI Espionage Post on Long Island’s North Shore
Thursday, May 25, 2017, 7:00- 8:30 pm This program is postponed and will be rescheduled for another date later in the year. More information will be available soon.
As unbelievable as it may seem, an unassuming house atop a waterfront bluff in Wading River, now a retreat for the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island known as the Benson House, once served as a top-secret FBI radio transmission location from 1942 to 1945. Under the guise of a cover story, FBI agents lived and worked in the top two floors of the house throughout much of the United States’ involvement in World War II, sending misinformation to the Nazis about American troop movements and the development of the atomic bomb. Join Dr. Raymond Batvinis, retired senior FBI counterintelligence agent, historian, professor and author of Hoover’s Secret War Against Axis Spies, as he recounts the fascinating, though not well-known, history of the Benson House and its contributions to the Allied victory in the Second World War.
Thursday, June 29, 2017, 7:00- 8:30 pm
The Korean War is often referred to as the "forgotten war" since there is a general lack of understanding about the conflict and recognition for those who served during it. Frustrated by this and determined to do something about it, local Hauppauge resident, Salvatore Scarlato, a decorated Korean War veteran and president of both the central Long Island and New York State chapters of the Korean War Veterans Association, works with other veterans through the national "Tell America Program" to inform school students and community organizations about the importance of the war and the long-term impact it has had throughout the world. Come and remember America’s "forgotten war" with Mr. Scarlato and a fellow veteran as they share their stories of service.
Wednesday, July 26, 2017, 7:00- 8:30 pm
By 1967, when Jim "Zak" Szakmary signed up for a three-year enlistment with the Marine Corps, the United States was already well embroiled in the Vietnam War. A native of Queens and a student at Farmingdale State College at the time, this young man set off for the jungles of Southeast Asia to fight a difficult battle aimed at halting the further spread of communism in the region. During his thirteen-month tour in Vietnam, Mr. Szakmary documented his day-to-day life whenever he had access to a camera, photographing the Vietnamese countryside, people he encountered, and his fellow marines. Join him, fifty years later, as he shares these remarkable images and describes his indelible experiences as a veteran of the Vietnam War.
Wednesday, August 23, 2017, 7:00- 8:30 pm
Looking back on a military career that spanned over 20 years, retired Master Sergeant, USAF/ ANG and current Suffolk County Veterans Service Officer, Melissa Pandolf knows that much of her success can be attributed to the love and assistance she received from her family. From her first four years of active duty as a flight medic with the Air Force to her time in the Air Force Reserves and, later, Air National Guard Reserves, through numerous deployments, both stateside and overseas, her family’s unwavering support allowed Mrs. Pandolf to pursue a difficult yet rewarding life in the military. Learn more about the personal history of this Long Island military family as Mrs. Pandolf and several of her family members discuss the sacrifices and successes that went along with her career choice.
Thursday, September 28, 2017, 7:00- 8:30 pm
Born in Smithtown and raised in nearby Patchogue, LT Michael P. Murphy was, by all accounts, a fine young man—a devoted son and brother, a steadfast friend, and an exemplary officer in the elite United States Navy SEALs. In retrospect then, it is not surprising that someone as dependable as LT Murphy sacrificed his own life in an effort to protect his fellow SEALs, when he and his team were ambushed by Taliban fighters in Asadabad, Afghanistan on June 28, 2005. For his courage, LT Murphy was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor, the military’s highest commendation for valor and his story became the subject of the book and movie, Lone Survivor. Join LT Murphy’s father, Daniel Murphy, a Vietnam War veteran himself, as he recounts his son’s bravery and explains how the Murphy family and others are working diligently to honor the legacy of this hometown hero.
Thursday, October 19, 2017, 7:00- 8:30 pm
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) are conditions that many veterans grapple with when they return home from war. In past conflicts these conditions, often brought on by the intensity of warfare, were referred to as "shell shock," "battle fatigue," and "combat stress," but all are marked by the same symptoms and, if left untreated, can lead to anxiety, depression, violence, and/ or suicide. Waging a war against these debilitating conditions, the Joseph P. Dwyer Veterans Support Project's mission is "to assist veterans, service members, and their families to achieve and sustain personal health, wellness, and purpose in their post-service lives through the support of trained, veteran peers." Named for an Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran from Mount Sinai who tragically took his own life while struggling with PTSD, the project was launched in 2012 as a pilot partnership between the Suffolk County United Veterans program and the Suffolk County Veterans Service Agency. Program Director, retired Chief Master Sergeant USAF/ ANG Marcelle Leis and Director of the Suffolk County Veterans Service Agency, U.S. Navy veteran Thomas Ronayne, will discuss the history and impact of the Dwyer Project as well as its role as a model for veteran support organizations throughout the country.
Long Island at War
2017 marks 100 years since the United States’ entry into World War I. To commemorate this anniversary, the Long Island Room has assembled materials from its collection as well as the collections of others to highlight Long Island’s participation in the nation’s various war efforts since then. This exhibit will be on view through December 2017.