A Monthly Retrospective of Linda Puglisi’s 30 Years as Town of Cortlandt Supervisor
Two groups in our community that have always been very important to me are Veterans (men and women) and Senior Citizens. Both groups deserve our deepest respect and gratitude for everything they have contributed to our country and to our community.
My late father, coming out of college, enlisted in the Marines. He was sent to guard what was left of Pearl Harbor after it was attacked in WWII. He often encouraged me to do my best to assist Veterans. I have tried to live up to that request.
In 1992, my first year as Supervisor, WWII Veteran Michael Mongero and I started the first Cortlandt Veterans Committee, which since has become regional. Mike, who at 17 landed on Normandy Beach, was a Cortlandt Town Councilman in the 1980s and a great person!
After Mike’s passing, Fremont Reif became our Chairman. Currently, it is headed by Willy Nazario, a Purple Heart Vietnam Veteran. The Committee holds monthly meetings, hosting speakers on issues important to our Veterans.
We hold ceremonies for Veterans on Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and Pearl Harbor Day (Dec. 7) and on other occasions. I am privileged to be Master of Ceremonies at these annual events. When I hear “Taps,” I get tears in my eyes.
Our Town Board and I, with our Veterans Committee, successfully fought to keep the FDR VA Hospital open, and to keep and increase services for all our Veterans who have defended our great country. I always say, “Our Veterans fought for us and now we need to fight for them.”
We lobbied for years for an indoor pool for Veterans, and finally, with Congresswoman Nita Lowey’s help, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs funded the project for over one million dollars. We also proudly have the only New York State Veterans Nursing Home for spouses on that campus.
Through the years the Town has built many memorials in tribute to our Veterans — a Purple Heart memorial, a Vietnam Era memorial, a memorial honoring all branches of the service, an enhanced WWII memorial, and a memorial at our Hudson River Waterfront Park honoring all Veterans through the years. We also have a Veterans banner tribute along one of our major corridors.
I consider all our Veterans and their families dear friends and cherish the memories of those who have passed away. They are all proud of their service and we are proud of them.
We also have many clubs, programs, activities and events attended by hundreds of our Seniors. Our Muriel H. Morabito Community Center is used solely by our seniors during the week, supervised by an excellent staff.
The Center is named for Cortlandt’s first woman Town Supervisor (in the early 1970s). I am the only other female Supervisor in the Town’s 233-year history.
The Senior Clubs go on approximately 12 interesting trips a year. They have special luncheons and events/parties that I have loved attending during my 30 years as Town Supervisor.
Even as the Center was closed during the pandemic, the staff was still working there, made calls to check in on Seniors, and could be reached by Seniors to assist with their questions and needs.
Helping Veterans and Senior Citizens is a priority for every local government, and nobody believes that more strongly then me. I truly love and respect each Senior and Veteran, and always enjoy hearing them talk about their families and lives.