Bronx Week Veterans Appreciation Luncheon

Bronx Week Veterans Appreciation Luncheon

By Robert Press

This was the first Bronx Week scheduled event after the introduction of Bronx Week. The Veterans Appreciation Luncheon is a favorite of all the members of the Armed Forces and of all wars which the United States sent troops to fight in. In the front was the special table that is set up to remember those who did not return from fighting to protect the country. 

Mr. Gary Axelbank has been the emcee of this Bronx Week event, and did his usual excellent job of introducing speakers and honorees. After the singing of the National Anthem by veteran Belinda Barnes the invocation was given by Bishop Rosario, and there was a moment of silence as the names of fallen soldiers were read from the previous year. Mr. Axelbank then acknowledged Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark and Deputy Bronx Borough President Janet Peguero, the representatives of other elected officials, he then introduced Bronx Borough President Vanessa L. Gibson. 

Bronx Borough President said “Today we gather to celebrate and appreciate the men and women who have served our country in the armed forces”. She then called out the various branches of the armed forces to hear those members respond, and the loudest cheer came from those that had served in the U.S. Army. She introduced her Veterans Advisory Committee, and mentioned that she is trying to have the city council declare November as Veterans Appreciation Month so veterans are appreciated for not just one day, but an entire month. BP Gibson introduced Joe Mondello the chair of her Veterans Advisory Committee. Mr. Mondello explained the importance of the empty table at the front to remember the soldier who did not return from wars to protect the country. 

Vivian De Cohen the Director New York State Veterans Services, James Hendon of the NYC Department of Veterans Services, Balavenkatesh Kanna MD, MPH the director of the Bronx VA Medical Center, and Wendy McClinton CEO of the Black Veterans for Social Justice (who was the keynote speaker) all spoke, and then it was time for the Honoree Recognition. The five Honorees were Mrs. Roxanne Gonzalez-Jimenez, Courtney Lanier, Dondi McKellar USN(MST),Sidney T. Clark, and Ed Deglomini.  

Bronx Borough President Vanessa L. Gibson then gave closing remarks and called to the podium Pastor Jay Gooding for the closing prayer. Bronx Week runs through Sunday when the Bronx Week Parade, Food Festival and Concert take place along the Grand Concourse from East 167th Street through East 158th Street. Go to for the calendar of events for Bronx Week 2023.


Veteran Belinda Barnes sings the National Anthem.



The names of fallen veterans from the previous year are read during the moment of silence.
The empty table that is set up to remember the soldiers who did not return from their service to the country.
Bronx Borough President Vanessa L. Gibson welcomes everyone, and wanted to see which branch of the armed forces they served in.

Borough President Gibson introduced her Veterans Advisory Council, led by Joe Mondello who explained the reason for the empty table at the front.

The honorees (L – R) Courtney Lanier, Sidney T. Clark, Ed Deglomini, Bronx Borough President Vanessa L. Gibson, Dondi McKellar, and Mr. Roxanna Gonzalez-Jimenez.
Bronx Borough President Vanessa L. Gibson with Pastor Jay Gooding who gave the closing prayer.
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