SLEEPY HOLLOW, N.Y. -- Threats of showers may have put the kibosh on Sleepy Hollow’s Memorial Day parade Monday, but they didn’t deter one youngster from honoring local veterans.
Ari Kotler, 10, seized the opportunity to visit with 95-year-old Armando “Chick” Gallela, said to be the region’s sole surviving Pearl Harbor veteran.
Ari’s mom, Andrea Harrison, a middle school art teacher, had become acquainted with Gallela after the Sleepy Hollow resident came to talk to students about his experiences during World War II.
Gallela, who lost close friend John “Sully” Horan when the Japanese bombed the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor, on Dec. 7, 1941, barely escaped with his own life.
He was said to be the force behind naming Horan’s Landing, the riverside park at the foot of Beekman Avenue in Tarrytown after his fallen comrade.
According to Daily Voice community advisor JoAnne Murray, Gallela was more than happy to share his story with Ari and his mom on Monday.
While the three were chatting, Gallela got a call from Giuseppe “Joe” Tanzi, a Hawthorne veteran who had been inducted into the 40th State Senate District’s Veterans Hall of Fame in 2013.
Tanzi told Gallela that he was about to place American flags at the veterans memorial in nearby Patriot’s Park on Route 9.
The old soldier and his young friend made their way to the park where they helped Tanzi install small versions of Old Glory up and down the path leading to the memorial.
They were joined by Bob Moon of the Sleepy Hollow Fire Department, Murray said.
Gallela has told local media outlets that he feels it is important that young people know that fallen servicemen and women are not just names on a memorial, or in a book, they are real people who gave their lives to protect our freedom.