As is the case with most good ideas, the inspiration behind Sunday’s dinner at Cassino Italian Restaurant in Long Island City for active duty military, reservists and ROTC cadets, was simple. “We thought it was a great way to acknowledge our troops,” said Rosemary Anzalone, co-owner of Cassino’s with husband, Andrew. “It’s the least we could do to thank them for keeping us free.”
Judging from the happy faces of the dozens of service members and their families piling their plates full of pasta, eggplant and turkey, the holiday spirit of giving thanks was mutual.
“It’s really nice to be given this opportunity to be here and to be with your family,” said Petty Officer First Class Khadijah Hajjaj, spending quality time with loved ones while on leave from her post on Long Island. “I’m really happy,” Hajjaj’s daughter, Zirah, 7, chimed in.
The free meal also gave ROTC cadets from Aviation High School in L.I.C. an opportunity to break bread with active duty soldiers and reservists — a chance the next generation of servicemen and women didn’t take lightly. “For a junior ROTC, it’s exciting to participate with active members,” said Jessie Hekimian, a ROTC cadet and high school senior. “We can take and they can share their knowledge.”
For those who want to show their appreciation by sending a care package to our men and women in uniform stationed across the globe, call troop coordinator Connie Morinello of the Soldiers, Sailors, Marines & Airmen’s Club at (917) 821-1867, or email at cmorinello@ ssmaclub.org.