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Flag Day in the United States

People across the United States celebrate Flag Day on June 14 each year to honor the United States flag and to commemorate the flag’s adoption. On the same day, the United States Army celebrates its birthday.

Flag Day USA
Flag Day honors the United States flag.
© RiverNorthPhotography

What Do People Do?

Flag Day falls within National Flag Week, a time when Americans reflect on the foundations of the nation’s freedom. The flag of the United States represents freedom and has been an enduring symbol of the country’s ideals since its early days. During both events, Americans also remember their loyalty to the nation, reaffirm their belief in liberty and justice, and observe the nation’s unity.

Many people in the United States honor this day by displaying the American flag at homes and public buildings. Other popular ways of observing this holiday include: flag-raising ceremonies; Flag Day services; school quizzes and essay competitions about the American flag; musical salutes; street parades; and awards for special recognition.

Organizations such as The National Flag Day Foundation are actively involved in coordinating activities centered on the event and keeping the flag’s traditions alive. Following Flag Day is Honor America Days, a 21-day period through to Independence Day (July 4) to honor America. During this period, people hold public gatherings and activities to celebrate and honor the nation.

Public Life

Although Flag Day is a nationwide observance, it is not a public holiday in many parts of the United States. It is a legal holiday in a few areas in the USA, such as Montour County in Pennsylvania.


On June 14, 1777, the Continental Congress replaced the British symbols of the Grand Union flag with a new design featuring 13 white stars in a circle on a field of blue and 13 red and white stripes – one for each state. Although it is not certain, this flag may have been made by the Philadelphia seamstress Betsy Ross, who was an official flag maker for the Pennsylvania Navy. The number of stars increased as the new states entered the Union, but the number of stripes stopped at 15 and was later returned to 13.

In June 1886 Bernard Cigrand made his first public proposal for the annual observance of the birth of the flag when he wrote an article titled “The Fourteenth of June” in the old Chicago Argus newspaper. Cigrand’s effort to ensure national observance of Flag Day finally came when President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation calling for a nationwide observance of the event on June 14, 1916. However, Flag Day did not become official until August 1949, when President Harry Truman signed the legislation and proclaimed June 14 as Flag Day. In 1966, Congress also requested that the President issue annually a proclamation designating the week in which June 14 occurs as National Flag Week.

The President is requested to issue each year a proclamation to: call on government officials in the USA to display the flag of the United States on all government buildings on Flag Day; and to urge US residents to observe Flag Day as the anniversary of the adoption on June 14, 1777, by the Continental Congress of the Stars and Stripes as the official flag of the United States.


The American flag, also nicknamed as “Old Glory” or “star-spangled banner”, has changed designs over the centuries. It consists of 13 equal horizontal stripes of red (top and bottom) alternating with white, with a blue rectangle in the canton bearing 50 small, white, five-pointed stars. Each of the 50 stars represents one of the 50 states in the United States and the 13 stripes represent the original 13 colonies that became the first states in the Union.

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The first celebration of the U.S. Flag's birthday was held in 1877 on the 100th anniversary of the Flag Resolution of 1777. However, it is believed that the first annual recognition of the flag's birthday dates back to 1885 when school teacher, BJ Cigrand, first organized a group of Wisconsin school children to observe June 14 - the 108th anniversary of the official adoption of The Stars and Stripes as the Flag's Birthday. Cigrand, now known as the 'Father of Flag Day,' continued to publically advocate the observance of June 14 as the flag's 'birthday', or 'Flag Day' for years.

Just a few years later the efforts of another school teacher, George Balch, led to the formal observance of 'Flag Day' on June 14 by the New York State Board of Education. Over the following years as many as 36 state and local governments began adopted the annual observance. For over 30 years Flag Day remained a state and local celebration.


In 1916, the anniversary of the Flag Resolution of 1777 became a nationally observed event by a proclamation by President Woodrow Wilson. However, it was not designated as National Flag Day until August 3rd, 1949, when an Act of Congress designated June 14th of each year as National Flag Day.

Today, Flag Day is celebrated with parades, essay contests, ceremonies, and picnics sponsored by veterans' groups, schools, and groups like the National Flag Day foundation whose goal is to preserve the traditions, history, pride, and respect that are due the nation's symbol, Old Glory.

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The Stars and Stripes originated as a result of a resolution adopted by the Marine Committee of the Second Continental Congress at Philadelphia on June 14, 1777. The resolution read: "Resolved, that the flag of the United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field representing a new constellation. "

The resolution gave no instruction as to how many points the stars should have, nor how the stars should be arranged on the blue union. Consequently, some flags had stars scattered on the blue field without any specific design, some arranged the stars in rows, and some in a circle. The first Navy Stars and Stripes had the stars arranged in staggered formation in alternate rows of threes and twos on a blue field. Other Stars and Stripes flags had stars arranged in alternate rows of four, five and four. Some stars had six points while others had eight.  

Strong evidence indicates that Francis Hopkinson of New Jersey, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, was responsible for the stars in the U.S. flag. At the time that the flag resolution was adopted, Hopkinson was the Chairman of the Continental Navy Board's Middle Department. Hopkinson also helped design other devices for the Government including the Great Seal of the United States. For his services, Hopkinson submitted a letter to the Continental Admiralty Board asking "whether a Quarter Cask of the public Wine will not be a proper & reasonable Reward for these Labours of Fancy and a suitable Encouragement to future Exertions of a like Nature." His request was turned down since the Congress regarded him as a public servant.


Properly Display the American Flag | How To
Learn how to properly display the American flag in this video hosted by Command Sergeant Major T. S. Decker (ret.). Watch now.
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The 2018 edition of the Belmont Stakes packs a double punch with a monumental anniversary celebration and the possibility of a Triple Crown sweep on tap for Saturday at Belmont Park.

The Belmont Stakes, the oldest, longest and most grueling of the three Triple Crown races, celebrates its 150th running this year and a sellout crowd of 90,000 is expected to turn out to see if Justify can add his name to the winners of the American series. The muscular colt who beat the odds in the Kentucky Derby and sliced through the thick fog in the Preakness Stakes will be the favorite in the 1 1/2-mile Belmont in his attempt to become the 13th Triple Crown winner.

An action-packed day is on tap – a loaded card of stakes races and bevy of entertaining options – for the fans that stick around for the main event a bit before 7 p.m. Saturday. Justify is unquestionably the star attraction and his bid for the Triple Crown marks the second time in the race’s storied history that a sweep was on the line in a major anniversary year, following Forward Pass’ failed attempt in the 100th edition in 1968. Justify’s bid also comes 20 years after Real Quiet came agonizingly close before losing by a nose to Victory Gallop.

Unlike Forward Pass and Real Quiet – and many of the other 35 horses who came to Belmont with a chance – Justify brings an undefeated record to the table. He’ll attempt to match Seattle Slew, the sport’s only unbeaten Triple Crown winner in 1977, and not follow in the footsteps of Smarty Jones, who came within a length of a sweep in 2004.

“It’s such a relief, when you have a horse like this to win the first two and look forward to the Triple Crown,” said Justify’s trainer Bob Baffert, who also conditioned the most recent Triple Crown winner American Pharoah in 2015. “There’s a reason why he’s undefeated. He knows where the wire is, we needed an extra five yards from him today and we got it.”

The extra five yards came three weeks ago in the Preakness, when Justify battled early with champion Good Magic and held off late challenges from Bravazo and Tenfold to become the 35th Derby-Preakness winner and the 10th since 1997.

Baffert trained five of the 10 – Silver Charm (1997), Real Quiet, War Emblem (2002), American Pharoah (2015) and Justify – and has made a personal playground of the Triple Crown races during his Hall of Fame career. Baffert brings 14 victories in Triple Crown races to this year’s Belmont, tied with fellow Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas atop the all-time list. A rubber match of sorts could unfold in the Belmont, with Baffert sending out Justify and longshot Restoring Hope and Lukas running Preakness runner-up Bravazo.
Sixth in the Kentucky Derby, Bravazo finished a half-length behind Justify in the Preakness with Tenfold another neck back. Bravazo and

Tenfold both made late runs to reach contention in the Preakness, but still could not overhaul Justify.

That’s nothing new for Justify, who did not race as a 2-year-old and became the first horse since Apollo in 1882 to win the Kentucky Derby after not racing the prior year. Justify won three starts before the Derby and then romped on a sloppy track to win the Kentucky Derby by 2 1/2 lengths.

Baffert said he was in “awe of the performance” by Justify in the Derby, admitting to being more relieved than elated after the victory.

“I’d been fretting all week trying to get this big horse there,” Baffert said. “It’s like having LeBron James on your team. You better win a championship with him. That’s the way we feel.

“That’s the best Kentucky Derby-winning performance that I’ve brought up here. He just did it, he just put himself up there with the greats . . .

Hey, I didn’t want to jinx myself, but we knew, I knew I had something really special, but he had to prove it today. The curse thing really didn’t bother me. I was just worried about us, just make sure we did everything right.”

Justify stayed at Churchill Downs to train for the Preakness – just as he did before the Belmont – per Baffert’s style to not return the colt to his California base and avoid shipping across the country. He caught a wet track again in the Preakness, and dueled with Good Magic for a majority of the race as a thick fog rolled into Pimlico about an hour before the race.

Justify withstood the challenge again under Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith, put away Good Magic in the stretch and lasted to the finish.
“He’s a superior horse,” Baffert said after the Preakness. “It takes a really good horse. We’ve seen horses win the first two but what he’s done in just five starts is incredible. That takes like an American Pharoah talent to do it.

“American Pharoah, his Derby was like this Preakness.

He had to work at it, he came into the Preakness and just showed us what he was. Today it was sort of the same, he had to gut it out. But it’s good for these types of horses, that was the first time he had to lay it down and he came through.”

Now comes the Belmont, which foiled Hall of Famers Northern Dancer, Spectacular Bid, Alysheba, Sunday Silence and Silver Charm and superstars Smarty Jones, Big Brown and California Chrome. The big question is can Justify avoid adding his name to that list and instead join the likes of Secretariat, Citation, Seattle Slew, Affirmed and Count Fleet. The answer will come in the 12 furlongs and the group of quality opponents awaiting Justify, Baffert, Smith and the colt’s large ownership group led by WinStar Farm and China Horse Club.

“It’s an incredible journey, it’s been quick, but he’s handled everything we’ve thrown at him and he handles it without really losing his composure,” Baffert said last week. “A lot of horses when you run them that many times they’ll start getting nervous or hot, but he seems to be thriving on it. He’s a very intelligent horse, that’s his biggest asset. Not only is he a great athlete, but his mind. The way he stood in the paddock at the Kentucky Derby and in the Preakness, just standing there like he’s been there so many times before. Nothing bothers him. He’s a very fearless type of horse . . . He’s an A personality type horse. That’s another strong point that he has, he has no fear. That’s the way he’s always been and handles everything so well.”

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Here & There…At Belmont Park

Belmont Stakes By The Numbers

2: Fillies to win in the first 39 runnings – Ruthless in 1867 and Tanya in 1905.

4: Winners sired by Lexington in first 11 editions – General Duke (1868), Kingfisher (1870), Harry Bassett (1871) and Duke Of Magenta (1878).

6: Belmont Stakes wins by owners James R. Keane and Belair Stud, the record.

5: Consecutive Belmont Stakes wins by trainer Woody Stephens from 1982 to 1986 with Conquistador Cielo, Caveat, Swale, Crème Fraiche and Danzig Connection.

102: Years between winning fillies – Tanya in 1905 and Rags To Riches in 2007.

1: Trainer to condition two Triple Crown winners. James “Sunny Jim” Fitzsimmons did it with Gallant Fox in 1930 and Omaha in 1935. Bob Baffert could become the second with a Belmont win by Justify.

4: Tracks to host the Belmont Stakes – Jerome Park (1867-89) in the Bronx, Morris Park (1890-1904), Aqueduct (1963-67) and – of course – Belmont Park (1905-62 and 1968-2018). The race was not run in 1911 and 1912 due to anti-gambling legislation.

10: Owners with back-to-back winners, most recently Meadow Stable with Riva Ridge in 1972 and Secretariat in 1973.

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Belmont Stakes History

The Belmont Stakes run for the 150th time Saturday at Belmont Park resembles the roughly 100 runnings dating to the mid-1920s and stands in stark contrast to the early renewals of one of America’s oldest races.

The modern Belmont Stakes holds a fixed spot on the calendar as the third jewel of the Triple Crown, run at the series’ longest distance of 1 1/2 miles and in early June. The race has seen more than its fair share of changes and a historic review shows the race run at five distances, sometimes clockwise, under the auspices of myriad racing jurisdictions at four tracks, not run twice because of anti-gambling laws in New York, occasionally contested in late May and once even in November.

Inaugurated by the American Jockey Club with a goal to “attract the best and build a prestige for American racing comparable to the Epsom Derby of England, the Belmont Stakes was first run Thursday, June 19, 1867 at the former Jerome Park. Constructed on a 230-acre tract of land in what was then Westchester County – and now the Jerome Park Reservoir in the Bronx – Jerome Park only opened for racing nine months before the first Belmont Stakes.

The first 23 editions of the race – named for August Belmont Sr., who co-founded Jerome Park with Leonard Jerome – were run at Jerome Park, which featured a ribbon-shaped racecourse with a spacious grandstand, before the race was moved to Morris Park. A little more than a mile from what is now Van Cortlandt Park, Morris Park hosted the Belmont for 15 years before it was moved when Belmont Park, just on the border of Queens and Nassau County, opened in 1905. The Belmont was not run in 1911 and 1912 because of anti-gambling laws and during the reconstruction of Belmont Park from 1963-1967 the race was run at Aqueduct.

The following is a look back at some of the memorable editions of the Belmont Stakes, divided into three categories – ancient, yesteryear and modern.

Vancient Editions
Eleven 3-year-olds were nominated to the first running of the Belmont Stakes and only four faced the starter – the Francis Morris entry of the filly Ruthless and Monday and the duo of DeCourcey and Rivoli. Ruthless moved up to challenge DeCourcey late in the race before edging clear of that rival late, winning by a head and earning $1,850 by covering the 1 5/8-mile distance in 3:05.

Later regarded by legendary racing historian Walter S. Vosburgh as the “best filly he had ever seen,” Ruthless added the Travers Stakes and Sequel Stakes at Saratoga and retired with a leg injury with seven victories in 11 starts.

Ruthless’ name appears frequently in write-ups of the Belmont in modern times, as the first winner and one of only three fillies to win the race. She held the honor as the only filly to win until Tanya scored in 1905 and those two were joined by Rags To Riches in 2007.

Other winners of the early editions of the Belmont included 1871 champion Harry Bassett, a Hall of Fame inductee in 2010 and multiple champion who won 14 races in a row and 17 of 18 career starts; Calvin in the 1875 edition over a field of 14 that included inaugural Kentucky Derby winner Aristides and eventual Hall of Famer Tom Ochiltree; Hall of Fame inductee Duke of Magenta in 1878; and the undefeated Colin in 1908.

The lone running of the Belmont not in May or June came in the 29th edition, won by Belmar on a dreary and “disagreeable” day at Morris Park Nov. 2, 1895. The race was moved to the fall that year because the New York Jockey Club closed out its affairs, leaving the Westchester Racing Association to handle the race.

Classics of Yesteryear
The year after the sport’s first recognized Triple Crown winner – Sir Barton in 1919 – arguably one of American racing’s greatest horses won the Belmont Stakes.

Pitted against just one opponent, Man o’ War ran his record to 12-for-13 with a 20-length victory over Donnacona in the 52nd running of the Belmont. “Big Red” won the 1 3/8-mile Belmont – the distance the race was run from 1906 to 1925 – in an American record time of 2:14 1/5. Man o’ War, who did not run in the Kentucky Derby but won the Preakness, eventually retired at the end of his 3-year-old season with 20 wins in 21 starts.

A historic profile of the Belmont Stakes in the April 22, 1989 edition of The Blood-Horse magazine outlined how the “exacting distance of the Belmont prevents any but a genuine horse from winning,” and later opined that “the luckiest horse wins the Kentucky Derby, the fittest horse wins the Preakness and the best horse wins the Belmont.”

The results from the post-Man o’ War years until modern times certainly validate that belief. Seven of the 12 Triple Crown winners – Gallant Fox (1930), Omaha (1935), War Admiral (1937), Count Fleet (1943), Assault (1946) and Citation (1948) – capped their historic runs with Belmont Stakes victories during that period.

The Belmont’s distance of 1 1/2 miles – which Justify will attempt to navigate Saturday to become another Triple Crown winner – was permanently changed in 1926.

Man o’ War’s record 20-length margin was unchallenged until 1943, when Count Fleet capped his Triple Crown run with a monstrous 25-length tally over Fairy Manhurst and Deseronto. Count Fleet’s victory was his 10th consecutive and the Belmont wound up being his final career start after an ankle injury didn’t respond properly to treatment.

Modern Times
The Triple Crown went through two sizable droughts in the modern era – from 1948 to 1973 and from 1978 to 2015 – not that there weren’t opportunities when the Belmont Stakes rolled around. Six times in the 1950s and ’60s there was a chance and again in 1971 before the quintessential Belmont Stakes moment arrived in 1973.

Conversations about the Belmont Stakes often begin and end with Secretariat, a force of a Thoroughbred who rolled to electric victories in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness and seemed destined to sweep the series in 1973. Also nicknamed “Big Red,” Secretariat delivered a masterpiece performance in his Belmont. He faced only four opponents in the 105th Belmont, the chief opposition being Derby and Preakness runner-up Sham.

Secretariat quickly slammed the door on any challenge from Sham before pulling away to a 31-length victory in stakes-, track- and world-record time of 2:24 to end a 25-year Triple Crown drought. His statue graces the Belmont Park paddock.

Two more Triple Crown winners followed – Seattle Slew in 1977 and Affirmed in 1978 – and a third was in line when Spectacular Bid came to New York with a chance to sweep in 1979. Spectacular Bid was foiled in the Belmont, finishing fourth after his trainer said he stepped on a safety pin that caused him to be lame the morning of the race.

Spectacular Bid started another long drought, which eventually reached 37 years, until American Pharoah ended it with his victory in 2015. Pitted against seven opponents, the bay colt led from start to finish and won by 5 1/2 lengths in 2:26.65 – one of the fastest editions in the race’s history, affectionately known as the “Test of a Champion.”

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Walter Scherr was a depression era kid who survived tuberculosis and six years in a sanatorium to become a leader in the business community. He was a boardroom millionaire and a key figure in the early days of the high-tech revolution. Walter’s story connects the dots between those lives he touched and those that touched his. He held the positions of Executive Vice President (1993-1995) and Chief Financial Officer (1990-1993) at Veeco Instruments Inc., becoming a director in 2005. He has also served as a consultant for the company since 1995. He served as General Manager of the UPA Technology Division in the 1980s, as well as a variety of other financial and operating management positions with Litton Industries and Sperry Gyroscope Co, including group Vice President. However, Walter was not only an executive, but also a visionary — in the 1980’s, he was the Principal and Founder of Visual Sciences Inc./Panafax (the first publicly traded facsimile company). He was also an Associate Professor at Farmingdale State School and Co-Founder of The Vera and Walter Scherr and Family Foundation.

Listen to the interview Here:

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Walter Scherr Interview

Moe and Walter Scherr talk about how he was a Depression era kid who survived tuberculosis and six years in a sanatorium to become a leader in the business community; a boardroom millionaire; and a key figure in the early days of the high-tech revolution.

Walter’s Way: The Making of a Remarkable Humanitarian

What a treat it was for me today to share part of my day with one of the more remarkable human beings I’ve ever been around, .  At 91 years young, he’s the quintessential entrepreneur who, in the process of making the world a better place, leaves everyone in his presence better off.   His character is one of dignity and trust, his example is one I would want my son to emulate, and his moral strength is what superhero movies are built around.  

Having dedicated his professional career to building businesses in technology and oil & gas, he now directs his energy to perhaps his most important project - The Center for Discovery.  As you’ll pick up in this conversation, there’s no better humanitarian on the planet with as much determination to serve those less fortunate:  

Here’s what he’ll share: 

  • How he evaluates his life - both personally and professionally
    How adversity has shaped his character
  • Building mental resilience & dealing with his lowest moments
  • The time he knew he wanted to run a business
  • Why management by walking around ignites the best in others
  • The greatest lesson he learned from Mother Teresa
    The business philosophy inherent in the 3-in-1 egg theory

Listen to the interview:


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A $1.9 Million Gift to Help Educate Mental Health Professionals 

Walter J. Scherr likes to kick the tires of an organization before he becomes a donor.

The 88-year-old Queens native and retired businessman founded Visual Sciences Inc., one of the first publicly traded fax companies. Over his 60 years of buying and selling businesses, Mr. Scherr says that he likes to evaluate a company by examining the balance sheet, profit-and-loss statements and the intellectual property of an organization.

This is an approach Mr. Scherr took about a decade ago when he became a donor to the Center for Discovery, a provider of education and residential services for children and adults with autism and other medical complexities in Harris, N.Y.

Walter J. Scherr

Over the last decade, Mr. Scherr has given some $500,000 to the charity for staff scholarships. His four children have made a $1 million gift to create the Walter & Vera Scherr Learning Lab, so named for their father and late mother. Mr. Scherr has pledged to raise another $900,000 for the lab before his 90th birthday. The $1.9 million will be announced Tuesday night during the Center for Discovery's annual gala in New York.

The learning lab will allow staff members to continue their advanced education and share their expertise with others who care for people with severe and complex disabilities, medical frailties and individuals with autism spectrum disorders.

Mr. Scherr, who now lives in Sarasota, Fla., was introduced to the charity by chance during a casual conversation with his surgeon, George J. Todd, an expert in carotid artery surgery and chairman of the department of surgery at St. Luke's Roosevelt Hospital Center.

Dr. Todd asked Mr. Scherr what interested him philanthropically and Mr. Scherr shared his interest in helping co-workers who, as a result of a birth accident, had suffered from cerebral palsy. Over the years, he'd seen the challenges his co-workers had faced and, as a result, set up a fund for them upon his retirement.

It was a moment of kismet for the two men as Dr. Todd shared with Mr. Scherr his involvement in the Center for Discovery. Dr. Todd asked Mr. Scherr to visit, as a personal favor, to evaluate the center on a business level. During Mr. Scherr's visit, he asked to see the organization's books, examine the place on his own and write an evaluation of what he saw. Mr. Scherr was impressed and made his first gift in 2004.

"There's nothing like seeing the operation itself," says Mr. Scherr. "I tell other people, 'I can't guarantee anything after you go up and see the Center for Discovery, but I can tell you for the next week you won't sweat the small stuff.'"

It was more than just the financials and the dedicated staff that persuaded Mr. Scherr in his giving to the Center for Discovery. He considers himself extremely lucky in life. He survived the Depression and tuberculosis, which was discovered during a routine Army medical evaluation to serve in World War II.

"The gospel says take care of my children and I'll take care of you," cites Mr. Scherr, who believes that the Center for Discovery staff members all have a place "upstairs." Then, Mr. Scherr says with a laugh, "I'm hoping I can come in on their coattails."

Write to Melanie Grayce West at

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Ozone Park


The platform at the Rockaway Boulevard subway station – Ozone Park’s busiest transit hub – in 1982. 

Though it is 10 miles from the nearest ocean, the sea breeze is what brought people to Ozone Park – and it’s what the neighborhood is named for.

The history of Ozone Park dates back to 1882, when the neighborhood was founded in what was then a rural part of Queens County located on a plain sloping toward Jamaica Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.

The neighborhood was settled near the small hamlet of Centreville, near the current location of Centreville Street and Albert Road. Ozone Park got its name by the 19th Century term for ocean breezes – ozone – meant to attract urban dwellers from Manhattan and Brooklyn to the suburban-like atmosphere with sea breezes coming off the Atlantic.

The Long Island Rail Road came through two years after the neighborhood’s founding, with two stations, the Ozone Park station at 101st Avenue and 100th Street, and Aqueduct at the current Aqueduct-North Conduit Avenue subway station.
That triggered a population boom in the neighborhood and over the next century, In 1915, the subway came to the neighborhood when the elevated line over Liberty Avenue, which now carries the ‘A’ train, was constructed between Brooklyn and Lefferts Boulevard, allowing for quicker commutes to Manhattan.

By the mid-20th Century, the community became a destination for first- and second-generation Italian and Irish immigrants and grew to be one of the most prominent Italian-American communities in the country. Ozone Park became well known for being a working class community where faith and family reigned supreme.


With the Italian-Americans came what some argue is the best pizza in the United States, and some of the best Italian food this side of the Mediterranean Sea.

In the mid- to late-20th Century, Ozone Park became a hub of Mafia activities. It was here where large trucks stolen from JFK Airport during the Lufthansa heist were hidden on residential streets, and it was on 101st Avenue where Mafia don John Gotti set up shop at the Bergen Hunt and Fish Club. In 1984, Gotti’s reality show-star daughter Victoria was married at St. Mary Gate of Heaven Church, the gothic-style green spire-topped house of worship that dominates the neighborhood’s skyline and proudly states the neighborhood’s Roman Catholic heritage.

Indeed SMGH is one of several Catholic churches in the community, which include Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Elizabeth and St. Stanislaus Bishop and Martyr churches.

Since the late 1980s, the demographic of the neighborhood has changed dramatically. Though there is still a noticeable Italian-American presence, a growing population of Indo-Caribbeans – especially Guyanese and Trinidadian – and South Asians have made Ozone Park their home. Today, Ashrams, gurdwaras and mosques join the imposing Catholic churches, as Ozone Park becomes a center of faith and family for another generation of immigrants.

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Great book to read

Walter´s Way is a fascinating book that takes you through a man´s life of struggles, through his early years with a dreadful disease, having tuberculosis , he survives six lonely and painful years in a sanatorium.

Walter is eternally grateful for having a second chance at life returning to society, he approaches life with a different set of goals and determination that leads him to great success and accomplishments.

This book summarizes the author´s transitions and gives the reader inspiration to strive for greatness.

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For Ozone Park’s Barbara Bocklage, taking on a puppy from Canine Companions for Independence was a no-brainer.

Bockage worked with handicapped children before retirement. Searching for a sense of purpose, she stumbled upon Canine Companions for Independence, a national nonprofit that trains assistance dogs to children, adults and veterans with disabilities at no cost to the recipient, after a conversation with her sister.

“My sister is a volunteer at the Ronald McDonald House. There’s a dog there that came from Canine Companions named Rico,” said Bocklage. “I’ve been wanting a dog, and after my sister spoke with Rico’s owner, she helped me get in contact with her to learn more about the program.”

Canine Companions for Independence places 8-week-old puppies into the homes of puppy raisers where they learn basic commands and socialization skills. Once the dogs are about 1 1/2 years old, they are returned to the Canine Companions for Independence regional headquarters in Medford, NY, where they begin six months of professional training with the organization’s nationally renowned instructors.

After they undergo training, the pups are then matched with a child, adult or veteran with disabilities, and spend two weeks at the facility with their recipients. The pups then attend a graduation ceremony where the volunteer puppy raiser is invited to ceremoniously pass the leash off to the new recipient.

“You can give money to any charity, but do you really know where it goes?” Bocklage said. “That’s the best part of Canine Companions. We carry the load and then we get to give the dog to the person who was matched with the dog.”

Bocklage started the application process to receive her puppy, a golden retriever named Kimber, back in September 2017. Once she brought Kimber home, Bocklage was ecstatic and knew that this was meant for her.

“Ever since I retired I was looking for a sense of purpose,” Bocklage said. “I’ve always had dogs and after not having one for 10 years, it was time. After finding Canine Companions, I knew it was right for me.”

“My husband didn’t want a dog, but he’s the one who gives her treats for her potty training,” Bocklage said, laughing. “My 23-year-old niece is ecstatic about Kimber. Even my sister, who is highly asthmatic, wants to come over all the time to see the dog.”

Kimber has become quite popular in the neighborhood as well.

“She’s the star of the block,” Bocklage said. “She’s also a man-magnet. I was walking her through the neighborhood once with her little yellow vest on and a man who was working on cement came running over and said, ‘I have to pet this dog!’ She’s the best little girl.”

In the next year or so, Kimber will return to the Canine Companions for Independence headquarters for additional training. Bocklage knows that returning Kimber will be hard, but acknowledges that she will light up the lives of the people she comes in contact with.

“She was the happiest hello and will be the hardest goodbye,” Bocklage said. “Everyone falls in love with her, and I think that has something to do with what her purpose is. It makes everyone light up.”

For more information about becoming a puppy raiser, visit cci.org


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A longtime Ozone Park pizzeria and restaurant has new owners, a new look and a new menu — but its identity remains the same.

Aldo’s Pizza & Restaurant held its grand re-opening on Feb. 19 under the leadership of Anthony and Joe Livreri, brothers raised in Glendale who also own Mr. Bruno’s Pizzeria in East Elmhurst. They brought with them a revamped menu with traditional Sicilian fare and more than 30 varieties of pizza, but upholding the Aldo’s name was also a priority.


“It’s been here for so long and it’s got such a good name,” Anthony Livreri said. “I just wanted to bring the place back up to what it was. It was in the wrong hands for a short period of time.”

When the pizzeria’s namesake owner, Aldo Calore, retired from the business in 2014, the new management made a mess of the place, he said. When he went to see what the Livreri brothers had done to renovate the space, Calore said that he knew it was in good hands once again.

“It’s beautiful. These guys know what they’re doing,” Calore said. “They do everything excellent and they go out of their way to buy good stuff, not cheap.”

Although the Livreri brothers have been running Aldo’s since Jan. 2, the dining room was under renovation and was opened for the first time at the re-opening party on Monday, Feb. 19. The room was filled with Italian cheer as friends and family members came to congratulate the brothers on their latest venture, eat from a buffet of fresh entrees and drinks from the updated bar.

The brothers describe their new menu as simple and traditional, with meals such as lamb chops, skirt steaks, rib-eye steaks, a variety of fish, pasta and a large selection of appetizers and salads. The pizza menu is anything but simple, however, with a brand-new, 26-foot showcase in the restaurant that is stocked with everything from buffalo chicken, Thai chicken, grandma, upside down, cheese steak and rigatoni vodka pies, to rice balls, paninis and potato croquettes.

Above all, with many years of experience and multiple successful restaurants, the Livreri brothers know that the people are the most important thing. They used to own a few places in New Jersey, but coming back home made Joe Levriri realize the biggest difference with their latest location.

“The people are different in New York,” said Joe Livreri. “New York is New York; you can’t change it no matter where you go. You could talk to one person and talk to another person and you feel like you’re at home, where you’re supposed to be.”

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My Epiphany


According to the dictionary, an epiphany is a moment when you suddenly and unexpectedly become aware of a reality that can change your life forever.
At the age of 87, I had an epiphany. As I thought about the turning points in my life, I realized then they weren’t due to good luck or being in the right place at the right time. I understood and fully accepted for the first time that all the events I’d attributed to good luck were actually the results of divine intervention.
Part 1
I grew up in Ozone Park, New York, during the worst of the Great Depression. On December 7, 1941, I was listening to a radio broadcast of a crucial football game between my favorite team, the New York Giants, versus the Brooklyn Dodgers. The game coverage was suddenly interrupted by an announcement: Japanese planes had bombed the US Naval Base at Pearl Harbor. The next day, President Roosevelt declared war against Japan.
I had just graduated from high school and turned eighteen in June, 1943, when my neighborhood friends and I took the subway to the army recruitment center in downtown Manhattan. We filled out lots of paperwork with hundreds of other eager volunteers, stripped down to our underwear, and stood in a long line to be weighed and measured and poked. My friends and I were determined to join the army and fight for our country.
The universe had other plans for me.
The doctor who examined me spent a long time listening to my lungs through his stethoscope. He wanted to know if I’d had a hard time getting out of bed in the morning and if I’d ever coughed up blood or suffered from a fever. I nodded yes. I’d been going to school fulltime, plus working afternoons and evenings at a grocery store where I had to haul heavy boxes up and down the stairs. I figured that was why I always felt exhausted and weak.
I was devastated by the doctor’s diagnosis. I had active tuberculosis.
While my friends were shipped overseas, I was sent upstate to a publicly funded sanatorium. The young men I’d grown up with endured experiences I couldn’t imagine. Many of them never made it back home. Meanwhile, I was fighting for my life under very different circumstances. In 1948, I was finally declared free of infection. America had won the war. I had won my own private battle against TB.
Back home in Ozone Park, I felt like an outcast. Old friends, who believed I was still contagious, crossed the street rather than stop and say hello to me. Nobody would hire me, not even for the most menial job or low pay.
One hot afternoon, I stopped by Henry’s Ice Cream Parlor for a glass of cold seltzer, which everyone referred to as a two cents plain.
Although the owners--Henry, his wife Gerda, and her brother Fritz--were from Germany, their ice cream parlor was such a neighborhood landmark that nobody had bothered them during the war. Henry and Fritz hadn’t seen me in years. They wanted to know all about my time in the army. Where had I been stationed? Had I seen a lot of action? Was I one of the soldiers who’d participated in D-Day, the Normandy invasion? When I told them the truth, that I’d spent six years in a TB sanatorium, they were sympathetic. They didn’t shun me, as so many other people had. They were sympathetic.
The next time I dropped by, almost every table was filled. I drank my two cents plain from a seat at the counter and watched Henry and Fritz rushing from table to table, taking orders and clearing tables. Gerda seemed to have an extra pair of hands as she rushed to put out the plates of food. When the place finally quieted down, the three of them joined me at the counter and asked whether I wanted to work with them. I didn’t have to think twice about my answer. Gerda handed me an apron. I finally had a job!
I’d been working at Henry’s for a couple of years when one afternoon, just as the late afternoon crowd had finally cleared out, the door swung open. Tony, whose family had always lived on our block, walked in with a wave and a big smile. Tony and I weren’t close friends, because he was a few years ahead of me in school. But I’d always heard he was a smart kid, a hard worker, and the kind of person who’d make something of himself. He sat down next to me, ordered a chocolate soda, and asked what I was up to, and what I was planning to do next?
He had asked me the exact question that I spent all my time thinking about. Though I was grateful to be earning money, I knew I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life flipping burgers. But I felt stuck because I couldn’t figure out an answer that felt right. Tony sipped his soda as I said I was still trying to figure out my future. Where was he working, I asked. He’d become an accountant, he said.
He was doing pretty well, well enough in fact that he’d recently gone into business for himself.
An accountant! That was more than a job— it was a profession. A career; I couldn’t hide how impressed I was.
Tony reminded me that when we were in school, I was the kid with the reputation for being smart at math. He’d heard of a place in downtown Manhattan called Pace Institute, which offered both day and evening classes. I could work during the day, go to school at night. And their fees were a lot less than the price of a four-year college. Pace’s graduates received a certificate in accounting and business law. A lot of companies considered the certificate just as good as a bachelor’s degree for an entry-level position in accounting.
As much as the idea appealed to me, I knew that on my salary, I couldn’t afford even Pace’s tuition. But how could I admit that to Tony in front of my employers, who taken me in and been so generous?
Henry had been listening to our conversation. After quickly conferring with Fritz and Gerda, he announced that the three of them had decided to pool their tips, including what they received when I wasn’t in the shop, to help me pay for my tuition at Pace. They waved away my protests and gave me no choice but to accept their offer.
I’ve never forgotten Henry, Gerda, and Fritz’s examples of altruism and selflessness. My job at their ice cream parlor led to my becoming an accountant, which expanded into a career that allowed me to meet people, travel all over the world, and develop entrepreneurial opportunities beyond anything I could have imagined.
As I got older, I began to connect the dots. I came to see that nothing I’d accomplished was due to coincidence, chance, or a lucky break. My former employees had been blessed with the knowledge that we are part of a sacred plan much greater than ourselves.
As I grew older, I continued to discover how a guiding hand was leading me along my own path.
End Part 1
Part 2
One day in 1987, I was driving north on one of Long Island’s many highways. I stopped to get gas and suddenly heard a voice that belonged to my old friend, Al Busching. We had worked together at Sperry, shared an office, a secretary, and a lot of good times. Al had pulled up to the pumps on the southbound side.
We threw our arms around each other like long-lost brothers. Thirty years had passed, and we both looked a bit older, but otherwise nothing had changed. We chatted for a few minutes about our families, and what we were currently involved with. Al was the chief executive officer of Veeco Lambda, a major worldwide technology company headquartered on Long Island. I was looking for new business opportunities.
Al knew I’d had a lot of experience buying and selling companies. He happened to need someone to perform due diligence for a company Veeco Lambda was interested in buying. UPA Technology manufactured x-ray machines with a wide range of military and industrial uses. He was convinced that I was the perfect person for the task. Five months later, I told Al and the rest of the Veeco board that in my opinion, UPA was an excellent match for Veeco.
I was 62, and a lot of my friends were happily planning for their retirement. But when Al asked me to become head of UPA, I accepted without reservation. I welcomed the challenge of running a new company, especially one that was part of Veeco Lambda. During the nineteen wonderful years I spent there, we got involved with exploring the newly emerging field of high tech devices. We had more than our fair share of fascinating experiences—and no matter how serious the situation, we could always lighten the mood with a joke and a lot of laughter.
When I was younger, I would have been convinced that that bumping into Al Busching was a very lucky coincidence. But now that I’ve been fortunate to have time to reflect on my life, I have accepted that a guiding force brought us together at that particular gas station. Following my instincts and saying yes to Al’s proposition ultimately enabled me to discover the greater purpose I was meant to fulfill.
End Part 2

Part 3
The insight I gained through writing Walter’s Way is that we live in a universe where all of us possess an innate and complete intelligence. It’s incumbent upon us to discover this power and develop it, not only for our own benefit, but also to benefit others.
You don’t need to write a book in order to identify your life’s purpose. But you do need time and space for self-reflection in order to access this guidance. You need some way to focus, whether it’s through meditation or prayer or journaling. When we allow ourselves that privilege, we are able to discover that the guidance we yearn for exists within ourselves. I finally learned to grab hold of it and reflect on it every day of my life. That’s the gift I wish for all of you, as well. When we sit quietly and think about everything that’s happened to us, everyone who has come into our lives, we begin to understand that accidents don’t occur in a universe where a higher being exists.
I spent many years reflecting on my life, until I had that moment of epiphany and understood my true mission. I urge all of you to open your minds and reflect on your own lives. Remember the strangers who “randomly” appeared those who “randomly” gave you ideas or opportunities. Connect the dots! Each one of those people or events was part of a larger plan to enable you to fulfill your life’s mission.
The more birthdays I celebrate, the more grateful I am for the invisible light that has guided me along my path of self-discovery.
Now, in my ninth decade, I truly appreciate the gift I received: the knowledge that our life stories are directed by a guardian spirit—an invisible spirit that becomes apparent when we understand that we need to recognize a pattern in order to realize our mission. It’s there...grab it, hold it, and reflect on it every single day of your life.
People will forget what you said, what you did, but will never forget how you made them feel.
I hope that everyone who reads Walter’s Way will feel that it has changed their lives forever.
End Part 3

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Walter's Way won the Literary Classics and Children's Literary Classics (CLC) 
Lumen Award for Literary Excellence

Gold Award for College Audience Inspirational/Visionary

          Gold Award for High School Audience - Nonfiction


Literary Classics and Children's Literary Classics (CLC) Book Awards and Reviews were created by Taj Mahal Publishing Inc., a division of Wildflower Press and publishers of Mud Pie Parenting Magazine, a Midwestern publication. When the editors of Taj Mahal Publishing first set out to help promote excellence in children's literature, they discovered the challenges in sorting through all the children's books on the market. With the insurgence of books being released through the self-publishing market, it became increasingly apparent that now, more than ever, parents were in need of resources to help filter through all the books available to children and young adults. Literary Classics Book Awards and Reviews were created for two reasons . . . to help authors gain recognition for their work and to help parents find the best in literature for children and young adults.

Literary Classics continues to honor excellence in literature for children and young adults with their annual awards program. All books submitted for consideration are first submitted to the Literary Classics Review Department where reviewers score each book based upon a 100 point judging rubric. Books that score 80 points or higher are forwarded on to the judges for consideration in the annual book awards.

The Literary Classics Mission:

At Literary Classics, it is our mission to honor excellence in children's and young adult literature, thereby encouraging a passion for reading while promoting education, imagination and character in young readers.

The Latin text on the Literary Classics awards seal affirms the Literary Classics Mission Statement. Loosely translated, it states that classic literature is: The key to knowledge and creativity while promoting strong core values.


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Literary Classics is pleased to announce that the book Walter’s Way, by Walter Scherr, has been selected to receive the Literary Classics Seal of Approval.  The CLC Seal of Approval is a designation reserved for those books which uphold the rigorous criteria set forth by the Literary Classics review committee, a team comprised of individuals with backgrounds in publishing, editing, writing, illustration and graphic design.

Walter Scherr grew up in Queens, New York during the depression.  He, along with the buddies he'd known since childhood, couldn't wait to enlist in the army as part of their patriotic duty.  But after taking the required physical Walter was diagnosed with Tuberculosis, a life-threatening and highly contagious illness.  He spent the next seven years in quarantine fighting the dreaded disease while his friends were off fighting in the war.  After finally being released with a clean bill of health he went on to become a successful and highly influential business man.  His road to success was riddled with speed bumps and detours.  But with a strong sense of purpose, high ideals, and a willingness to learn, he had a tremendous impact in the U.S. and abroad, making positive changes that are still causing ripples in how businesses operate today.  This a compelling story that will encourage and inspire readers of all ages.  Walter's Way is highly recommended and has earned the Literary Classics Seal of Approval.

Literary Classics, an organization dedicated to furthering excellence in literature for young readers, takes great pride in its role to help promote classic literature which appeals to youth while educating and encouraging positive values in the impressionable young minds of future generations.   To learn more about Literary Classics, you may visit their website at or

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We are pleased to share with you a wonderful article that appeared in the Greenwich Post about Walter’s book and efforts to honor Pvt. Francis Bowen timed for Memorial Day observances: 

Walter J. Scherr’s life and legacy has been propelled by the inspiration of those who served and sacrificed during World War II, a time when Scherr himself desperately wanted to fight for his country but could not.

Born in Queens in 1924, Scherr was not quite old enough to join the Army when the U.S. entered World War II after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Six months later, Scherr went straight from his high school graduation to the local enlistment office, expecting to make his heroic mark on the war. Instead, he was stopped in his tracks with a diagnosis of active tuberculosis, a disease that was incurable at the time. Young Scherr was quarantined in a sanatorium for the next seven years, while all of his peers selflessly served their country—some making the ultimate sacrifice.

Though he got a late start, Scherr had a successful career as a corporate executive and entrepreneur, helping introduce the fax machine worldwide and making groundbreaking advancements in data storage. Scherr met Mother Teresa, traveled the world, gained, lost, and regained a fortune.

When Scherr began to write his autobiography, Walter’s Way: How a Relief Kid Survived TB, Corporate Betrayal, Bankruptcy, Made Millions, and Touched the Lives of Billions, he was compelled to honor the caretakers of the world, like those who cared for him during his years in a sanatorium, and the World War II service members who have so inspired him. Scherr began to look for someone from his childhood neighborhood of Ozone Park who gave his life during the D-Day invasion of Normandy. It was important to Scherr to form a personal connection to tragedy of the war.

Scherr found Pvt. Francis Nelson Bowen, who was living in Ozone Park, just like Scherr, when he enlisted in the Army. Bowen was engaged to Ada Murphy when he went overseas to fight with the 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment. He never came home. Serving as a medic, Bowen died trying to save the life of another paratrooper. He left behind his parents, older brother Harold, “Harry,” and sister, Gertrude, “Sissy.”

At age 90, Scherr traveled to the beaches of Normandy and the American cemetery there, to pay his respects at Bowen’s grave. In Walter’s Way, Scherr honored Bowen by prominently featuring his story.

This spring, through the connections of social media, Scherr was able to meet Ginger Rica, the daughter of Bowen’s sister and niece he never got to meet. The two met at Scherr’s residence in Naples, Florida.

This Memorial Day, Scherr joins the nation in honoring all the men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice to protect American freedoms. He is proud to continue honoring Pvt. Francis Bowen, and he hopes more people seek to learn the stories of those who died for our country.

Scherr dedicates many of his resources to the support of The Center for Discovery, an internationally-renowned treatment center and school for children and adults with complex medical conditions. The Vera and Walter J. Scherr Hurleyville Maker’s Lab in Hurleyville, N.Y., was primarily funded by the Vera and Walter Scherr Family Foundation, and supports innovation and creativity in the small Catskills town. All proceeds of Walter’s Way are donated to The Center for Discovery. This summer, Scherr is working with the 82nd Airborne Division to increase educational support for its troops.


The article was developed and submitted by Amanda Loviza 

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