MANHASSET, NY – Four children had the opportunity to let their parents know exactly what their military service means to them during an emotional discussion held today at the Rosen Family Wellness Center, part of the North Shore-LIJ Health System.
In anticipation of the July 4th celebration, Camilo Serrano, 9, of East Meadow, told a gathering of relatives, health system employees and reporters how difficult it was to be separated from his father, Juan. From 2000-2009, Juan served in the Marine Corps, engaged in Operation Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. Today, Juan works for the health system’s World Trade Center Health Program in Rego Park, Queens, a position he’s held since October, 2012.
As poised as any public figure could hope to be, Camilo told his audience, “My father and all of the men and women in uniform are true heroes. Today is a good day to remember that freedom is not free, and all sacrifices made in the quest for freedom are one more example of who we are…the best nation in the world.”
Alina Aronoff, 8, of Forest Hills, Queens, expressed similar sentiments about her mother, Katrina Aronoff, who continues to serve as a boatswain’s mate, petty officer 3rd class. She wrote, “In the military, my mom helps other people by protecting them from drowning.” Her little sister, Evelyn, 5, summed it up by saying, “My mom is the best. She can be a hero.” When she’s not on reserve duty, Katrina serves cancer patients as a radiation therapist.
Serving as the philosopher of the group was Binhi Serana, 13, who wrote, “Dad told me about terrorists. What I understand is that terrorists make people afraid to play. Dad told me that I will understand them when I grow up. I obey my dad to be friendly always to any kid in school. I promise not to quarrel, hit, bully, or hurt any classmate or friend. Dad told me to always make peace with every one every time.” David is now a registered nurse at North Shore University Hospital.
“Our mission here is to provide services for returning veterans and their families,” said Andrew Roberts, director, Office of Military and Veterans Affairs and a proud veteran, after hearing the children. “We don’t often have the opportunity to hear about how the demands and sacrifices required by these families impact the children. As we approach the celebration of our independence, it’s important to keep the words of these brave children in mind. This experience has taught us all something new.”