Cona Elder Law, an elder law firm based in Melville, sponsored their fourth Salute to Veterans Event, honoring a special veteran and the winners of the “Red, Write and Blue” student essay contest. The event was held at the LI State Veterans Home in Stony Brook.
This year, Cona Elder Law and Congressman Lee Zeldin, First District of NY on Long Island's east end, paid tribute to 96 year old Ben Gebbia, a resident at the LI State Veterans Home. Ben served as a trained Army Medic during WW II and his regiment also liberated two concentration camps in Germany.
A recipient of the Good Conduct Medal, the European African Middle Eastern Service Medal and the WW2 Victory Medal, Ben is a modest man who doesn’t feel like a hero but just a part of a 25 man regiment serving his country. "Our only goal was to win the war and get back home, says Ben."
According to Jonathan Spier, Deputy Executive Director of the LI State Veterans Home, “Ben symbolizes those who are unable to speak about their experiences in the war and epitomizes our greatest generation. He remembers D-Day like it was yesterday.”
Mr. Gebbia grew up in Coney Island where he and his wife of 63 years raised their two sons. When he returned from the war, he worked as a truck driver for Taystee Bread. Now a widower, he moved to the LI State Veterans Home five years ago. He has three grandchildren and six great grandchildren. Ben is an avid Mets fan who enjoys reading and attending religious services.
In addition to honoring Ben, Cona Elder Law also recognized the two first place winners of the Red Write and Blue student essay contest. Amelia Larkin, 13, a student at Murphy JHS in Stony Brook and Dominic Lewis, 9, a student at Sunrise Drive Elementary School in Sayville were each presented with a $100 gift card and a certificate. The four runners up each received a $ 25 gift card and a certificate.
“When we started the contest four years ago, we only had three essay submissions,” said Melissa Negrin-Wiener, Esq., partner, Cona Elder Law and a Smithtown resident. “This year we had nearly 500 essays from 30 school districts on LI.”
“We selected Amelia's essay because of how skillfully and articulately she expressed why her uncle is her hero and how he has inspired her to help others," said Negrin-Wiener. Dominic learned that even after leaving the service his uncle attended the funerals of hundreds of soldiers to complete the 21 gun salute. As Dominic saluted the crowd, it was evident that he had a new appreciation for his military hero.
The Salute to Veterans, Red Write and Blue Essay Contest gives young people the opportunity to learn more about their country and the freedoms and liberties they enjoy every day. This type of intergenerational program gives our youth the chance to learn from their heroes, the very people who made this country what it is today.
Cona Elder Law is recognized as a leading elder law and estate planning firm on Long Island. The firm was ranked the #1 Elder Law firm by Long Island Business News for 4 consecutive years (2012 – 2015) and was a finalist in the 2015 HIA Business Achievement Awards. The firm provides creative advocacy and cutting edge planning strategies and has been featured in many publications including: The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Newsday, L.I. Business News, Investor’s News Daily, USA Today, The Daily News, The New York Post, Kiplinger’s, Reader's Digest and many others. Cona Elder Law attorneys have appeared as guests on WNBC-TV, WABC-TV, CNN-fn, News 12, WLNY News 55 and many radio stations including WOR, WCBS AM, WBAB and WFAN.