Thousands of veterans, active military and their families gathered on May 25 at Rockefeller Center and Radio City Music Hall for Side By Side: A Celebration of Service™ created by Northwell Health. The two-part event honoring service members was the pinnacle event of NYC Fleet Week 2019.
“Northwell was honored to stand with those who have given so much of themselves to this great nation, which was especially fitting over Memorial Day weekend,” said Michael Dowling, president and CEO of Northwell Health, who more than a decade ago created Northwell’s Office of Military and Veterans Liaison Services. “It is our privilege and responsibility to continue our ongoing support to veterans and their families, including both medical care and behavioral health treatment for those struggling with PTSD. As a proud employer of thousands of veterans, we also remain committed to recruiting and assisting newly returned veterans trying to find a job and acclimate back into civilian life.”
The first half of the celebration at Rockefeller Center hosted by Alfonso Ribeiro, which was free and open to the public, featured performances by Boyz II Men, Gavin DeGraw, Alex Boyé, Rock Star Karaoke, The U.S. Navy Band, and cast members from Jersey Boys and Wicked. Attendees also interacted with actual U.S. Navy equipment, and got to see a special presentation of Northwell Health’s “The Fin” – the first 3D-printed amphibious prosthetic leg, which was named one of TIME magazine's 2018 Best Inventions.
A highlight of the daytime portion was hearing Navy veteran Dusty Kirby tell his extraordinary story and the moving onstage reunion with those who served with him in Iraq, as well as surgeons from Northwell’s Lenox Hill Hospital who literally gave him his smile back by reconstructing his jaw, which was shattered by gunfire more than a decade ago. Northwell awarded its Patriot Awards to Mr. Kirby and David Hirsch, MD, Lenox Hill’s chief of oral and maxillofacial surgery, who performed two pro bono surgeries to repositioned Mr. Kirby’s jaw so it aligned with his teeth.
Later that evening Northwell Health provided free tickets to hundreds of service members and their families for a special performance by GRAMMY Award-winning, multi-platinum band Imagine Dragons.