In New York, Veterans Serve at Ellis Island
September 14, 2017
People say that in the days that followed, an overwhelming sense of appreciation and love emanated throughout New York. Last Saturday, for the 16th anniversary of 9/11, we brought that feeling to Ellis Island, where we helped preserve a piece of our nation’s history for future generations.
Ellis Island teaches many of us about our heritage — how many of our ancestors came to this country, and what they overcame to make a better life for themselves and their children. For many, it is an enduring symbol of the American Dream and acceptance.
For us, it’s a way of connecting with past and future generations of immigrants who have helped build the country we fought to defend.
Jon Stewart, television personality and veteran advocate, joined us to serve. He said, “This place is personal to me. I walked the walls and I found my grandparents on those walls. You too can walk those walls and see names that remind you of your relatives, and understand that what you are is what makes America great, and you make my day great.”
In 2012, flood waters from Hurricane Sandy covered almost all of Ellis Island, damaging a majority of its infrastructure. Ongoing repairs and recovery efforts have helped Ellis Island return to its pre-Sandy condition, but there was still more to be done.
In under 4 hours we were able to put a fresh coat of paint on over 25 light poles, 2 exhibit rooms, 2 staircase towers, 1 hallway, mulch over 30 trees and the entire Wall of Honor area, demolish an old ADA ramp, and remove invasive plant species near the baggage and dormitory building. Our hard work will ensure that over 3 million visitors per year can continue to enjoy the rich history of Ellis Island.
For a newcomer volunteer like David Rosas, this was a great way to see what The Mission Continues is all about. “Doing stuff like this within communities feels important. As a veteran, giving back and feeling part of the camaraderie again is something I’m really interested in, especially projects like this where you’re helping to rebuild,” he said.
Thank You for Joining Us at Ellis Island
This service project was part of an ongoing collaboration between The Mission Continues and the National Parks Service, and is designed to improve public access to the history and natural beauty of New York City.
Thanks to Starbucks for donating coffee and pastries, Benjamin Moore for donating paint, our sponsors at Prudential, ADP and Bank of America for your support and for bringing volunteers to help, the National Parks Conservation Association for connecting us with the National Parks Service, BuildOn for bringing a group of motivated youngsters, BMW volunteers, all the veterans in attendance for your continued service and leadership, Jon Stewart for your continued support, and everyone else who came out to help on Saturday.
Report for duty in your community with The Mission Continues. Serve with a Service Platoon at an upcoming service event near you or apply for a fellowship. You can learn more about our programs on our website and stay updated on the latest news and announcements on Facebook and Twitter.