Supervisor Rich Schaffer, Deputy Supervisor Tony Martinez and Councilwoman Jackie Gordon recently attended a re-dedication ceremony for a sports field and park in West Babylon. The park, located on Old Farmingdale Road, was named after Captain John C. Pape, 25, after he was killed in action in Vietnam. The re-dedication included a new sign bearing Pape's name in the front of the park that welcomes visitors. Several community leaders were in attendance, including Suffolk County Legislator Kevin McCaffrey in addition to over 100 other members of the community.
The idea for a re-dedication came about thanks to West Babylon Little League Coach Chris Critchley, who approached the town with his proposal in May. After countless trips to the field, Critchley's curiosity about Pape's story and respect for our veterans helped him decide it was time to remind the community about Pape's sacrifice. He was presented with a Certificate of Appreciation by Schaffer, Martinez and Gordon.
The ceremony featured speeches from Schaffer, Pape’s brother Eric, Town Historian Mary Cascone, American Legion Post Commander Joseph Regina and Kyra Duke, a student at West Babylon High School. Duke completed a project two years ago that focused on the eight alumni from her school that died while serving their country. After researching the eight men, including Pape, Duke created framed profiles of each hero, featuring their names and photos. Her project was on display as she addressed the crowd and read an account written by a soldier who served with Pape, citing his bravery and other admirable qualities. Duke was also presented with a Certificate of Appreciation.
The new sign at the entrance of the park reads "West Babylon Keeping UNITY in Community." This phrase was chosen by several community groups, including the West Babylon Main Street Organization, West Babylon Beautification Society and the newly-formed West Babylon Chamber of Commerce. It is meant to represent the orchestrated efforts between the groups to improve West Babylon as a whole.
A large American flag flew over the ceremony thanks to West Babylon Fire Department trucks while the West Babylon High School marching band played the Star Spangled Banner, God Bless America and Taps during the ceremony.