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AMVETS post eyed for Rotterdam

Local veterans seek to establish first post in county

County Legislator Angelo Santabarbara, far left, talks to members during the Rotterdam AMVETS meeting, from left, “E J” Knapik, of Glenville, Carl Petrone, of Duanesburg, and Michael McGrath, of Rotterdam, on Thursday, Dec. 29. The group decided to form a brand new post after debating whether to move Post 21 to Rotterdam.

County Legislator Angelo Santabarbara, far left, talks to members during the Rotterdam AMVETS meeting, from left, “E J” Knapik, of Glenville, Carl Petrone, of Duanesburg, and Michael McGrath, of Rotterdam, on Thursday, Dec. 29. The group decided to form a brand new post after debating whether to move Post 21 to Rotterdam. Photo by John Purcell.

— Angelo Santabarbara wanted to join a local veterans organization, but there was a problem — there wasn’t one he could join.

Santabarbara, a Democratic county legislator from Rotterdam, served in the Army Reserves for eights years until 1998. Once he started looking around at local veteran groups, he realized he wasn’t eligible to join any.

“I wanted to be a part of an organization with other individuals like myself that served,” Santabarbara said.

Eventually he stumbled upon AMVETS, a veterans organization that includes members from each branch of the military, including National Guard and Reserves members. Active duty members of the military can join, too.

The broad range of acceptance in AMVETS is also what was appealing to Santabarbara.

“I like it because it doesn’t exclude anybody, everybody is in,” he said. “We are all under the same umbrella, we all served together.”

photo

From left, “E J” Knapik, of Glenville, and Carl Petrone, of Duanesburg, pledge allegiance to the flag during the beginning of the Rotterdam AMVETS meeting.

Now, Santabarbara and a handful of others are spearheading a movement to get a post started in Rotterdam. Drumming up interest has been an issue, though.

Around two years ago he reached out to “E J” Knapik, a past state commander of AMVETS, and met with him at a local diner. Santabarbara said it was Knapik who suggested he try to establish a post in Rotterdam.

“At the time I was like, ‘Wow, I don’t know how we would do that,’ but he has been working with me,” Santabarbara said. “It has been a long time … but hopefully we will get to the point where we can actually form this post.”

Before the group’s meeting on Thursday, Dec. 29, at the Gabriele D’Annunzio Sons of Italy Lodge No. 321 in Rotterdam, Knapik said recruiting members isn’t as easy as it used to be.

“Six years ago when I had formed a post in Amsterdam, the veterans wanted to be a part of an organization. Nowadays with TV … and everything, guys just aren’t joining it anymore,” said Knapik, a Glenville resident.

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Comments

ElizabethM 2 years, 3 months ago

I feel bad that these older gentlemen are being used as a political pawn by this politician. This politician is the poster boy of nonsense stories run in the Spotlight. Every issue shows him dressed all up and shaking hands, smiling with the pearly whites and schmoozing the voters. But what does this politician actually do other than play dress up and pretend he is "for" this or "for" that so that the Spotlight can run a story about his supposed doings. Does this politician own the paper or something??

As usual this politician is getting nothing done except getting free publicity about himself. My Father (also a veteran) taught me to spot a fake, and as an adult woman with teenaged girls, I am giving my daughters the same advice. Anyone this smooth is bad news.

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PeterG 2 years, 3 months ago

I cannot understand how you can really criticize SPC Santabarbara for this. The man served his nation proudly and now is working with others who did so to form a group of retired members of our armed forces to join together to continue the fraternal relationship they forged doing something most of us would never dare to do.

What's more, after serving his nation proudly, in uniform, he has decided to further benefit his community by holding elected office. What have you done lately to benefit your fellow man?

Far too often our elected officials don't do anything, they sit and collect a pay check and are ambivalent towards their purpose as elected officials. They are often criticized for this, and rightly so. Mr. Santabarbara is bucking that mold and should commended.

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