Each Saturday Robert Romanowski arrives at Korean War Veterans Park in Nanuet around 11:30 a.m. to pick up trash.
It isn’t his job, but he feels a responsibility to do it. That’s because at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Romanowski one in a group of people that stand at the park on the corner of Route 59 and Middletown Road to show their support for the troops.
“We just want to support them and all they’re doing,” he said.
The group is a local chapter of Gathering of Eagles, a national organization with no political affiliation that works to preserve war memorials. They also show their appreciation for the current men and women serving.
The local group first formed back in 2006, when they went to Washington D.C. to march on the Vietnam Memorial after some vandalism was done to the memorial.
But even before that, people had been meeting at the park on Saturdays since 2003 to show their support for the troops. For years, across the street there was another group there Saturdays that opposed to the war, but after nine-plus years, they held their recently with the troops being pulled from Iraq.
Paul Murray, of New City, said the group didn’t start coming out as a reaction to the anti-war protestors.
“We weren’t countering anything,” he said. “We just supporting the men and women overseas.”
Murray added that the group will continue to keep coming out on Saturdays because there are still troops in Afghanistan.
He said most Saturdays they have around six or seven people out there, but they can get up to 20-25. The group is made up of veterans, people with children or loved ones in the military and others who just want to show their support.
Like Gathering of Eagles, Murray said the group has no political affiliation.
“We’re told people to leave who bring political signs no matter which side they’re from,” he said. “That’s not what we’re here for. People from both sides sent the troops over there.”
Murray said the group has paid to fix lights in the park, as well as make sure it’s clean. He said they’re also talking with the town to try and get the fountain in the park working in the spring.
He added he thinks it’s important for people to show their appreciation for the troops with so many of them coming home.
“The troops coming home should know they have our support,” he said. “We should do whatever we can to help them, whether it’s find work or housing or whatever. They shouldn’t be treated like pieces of dirt.”
Murray added the group has had some preliminary discussions about fixing up the World War I memorial at Bardonia Elementary School.
“There aren’t really any World War I veterans around anymore, unfortunately,” Murray said. “But that doesn’t mean we can forgot about all they did for the country. We need to make sure we always remember them.”