The City of Rye will carry on its tradition of honoring deceased veterans on Memorial Day, Monday, May 29th, at Rye City Hall immediately following the Memorial Day parade. The ceremony will be led by American Legion Post 128 Commander Fred de Barros and include a speaker, the annual American Legion Americanism Award and remarks from elected officials including Mayor Josh Cohn, County Executive George Latimer, and NYS Assemblyman Steve Otis.
The Rye American Legion Post Auxiliary is organizing the parade down Purchase Street which will feature Legionnaires, marching bands, cyclists, classic cars, Rye’s Boys and Girls Scouts, and local government officials. The parade begins at 9:30 am at the train station and ends at City Hall.
The principal speaker is US Navy veteran, and Rye resident Howard Heyel. The theme of his talk is “Lest We Forget.” Heyel is a graduate of Rye City schools, having attended Milton Elementary and Rye High School. While in his senior year he enlisted in the United States Naval Reserves.
During the Vietnam Era, he was called to active duty where he was assigned to the USS Rushmore (LSD-14), sixth fleet Amphibious Forces, serving as an 2nd Class Electronics Technician. Following his honorable discharge, and while fully employed at AT&T, he embarked on his American Legion career. He chaired various committees, and was elected as Commander at the Post, County, District and Department levels. Presently he serves as Treasurer of the Westchester County American Legion.
Heyel enjoyed raising his four children, sons Ward and John, and daughters Julie and Kate with his wife Sue. He was always involved in the Rye Community serving as a Little League and Rye Girls Softball Coach, Rye Boy Scouts, and was a member of the City of Rye Safety and Traffic Commission. He was a certified CPR Instructor, EMT with the Port Chester-Rye Volunteer Ambulance Corps, and a graduate of Westchester County’s first basic level Paramedic Course. He is a member of the St. John’s Lutheran Church of Mamaroneck and is the Treasurer of the City of Rye Senior Citizen Club.
American Legion Americanism Award
At this year’s ceremony, James “Duke” Dianni will receive the 2023 Rye American Legion Americanism Award.
Commander Fred de Barros said ““Duke” Dianni exemplifies the values of the American Legion Americanism Award. This award recognizes a citizen who is a living example the American Legion values of law and order, the raising of wholesome youth, an educated and law-abiding citizenship, and respectful observance of patriotic holidays and remembrances.”
Duke was born and raised in Rye. He attended Resurrection School and was a Rye High School graduate, class of 1968. He served with U.S. Army during the Vietnam War from 1970-71 as his unit was dispatched to South Vietnam after the Tet Offensive to replace a U.S. Marine Corps unit. When Duke’s unit deployed for action in Vietnam, it operated in Cam Lộ, Đông Hà, Quảng Trị, and Khe Sanh. His regiment suffered 153 killed in Vietnam and returned to Fort Carson in 1971. Duke was awarded the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart and the Combat Infantry Badge.
Following his honorable discharge, Duke returned home to Rye. In 1973 he began his career spanning over 39 years of community service with the Rye Fire Department where he was the first career officer in the history of the Department. He spent decades teaching Rye students the importance of fire safety. He retired as Rye’s Chief Fire Inspector.
He also broadcast the Rye Garnet football games for 14 years on local cable television. Additionally, he coached in the Rye Babe Ruth League, Rye Girls Softball, Rye Youth Soccer, and CYO basketball. In 2012 he was on the founding committee of the Rye World War II veterans project which is now www.ryevets.org. Last November, as a veteran and veteran advocate Duke attended a Veterans Day service at Resurrection Church where approximately 300 Resurrection students participated, and Duke was right in the middle of the flag waving throng.
Other Memorial Day Activities
Legionnaire Terry McCartney will read the Roll of Honor. The ceremony will include the traditional reading of the Gettysburg Address.
The John M. Kingery Memorial Day Essay Contest Award will be presented to Karenna Chader of Rye High School who submitted the winning essay on “What Memorial Day Means to Me.” The program will also include recognition of Rye Girl Scouts and Eagle Scouts who will receive the American Legion Good Citizen Citation: Daniel Pellegrini, Brendon Kirk, and Harrison Gelinas.
Michael Talbott of Rye High School will play Taps. Robin Latimer, president of the Rye American Legion Auxiliary will sing. Additionally, Commander de Barros will honor deceased veterans buried at the John Jay Estate in afternoon ceremonies.
Well deserved Jim!
go Duke! You’re the best!
Congratulations Jimmy. We’ll deserved