By Neil A. Carousso, ConnectingVets.com
“Freedom is not free.”
That was the resounding theme of Rob Riggle’s speech at the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America Heroes Gala.
“There is nothing free about freedom and our men and women today sacrifice life and limb to protect those freedoms,” said Riggle to a room filled with veterans and service members from all branches.
Riggle retired as a lieutenant colonel after 23 years of service in the Marines Corps Reserve. He served in Afghanistan, earning two Meritorious Service Medals, National Defense Service Medals, the Humanitarian Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, among other decorations.
He is known for his comedic roles on The Daily Show and films such as 21 Jump Street and The Hangover. His former Daily Show colleague Stephen Colbert was a guest speaker at the gala.
Riggle spoke of his priorities for veterans while praising the IAVA for their unrelenting support of our heroes through education and legislative pursuits. He also emphasized the need for a modernization of an “antiquated” Department of Veterans Affairs system, exclaiming that in this day and age, no veteran should be unaware of the benefits they earned.
Sporting a full beard for a role in an unspecified project, Riggle addressed the Thousand Oaks, California shooting in which the alleged gunman Ian David Long was a veteran of the Marine Corps.
Riggle said it’s imperative to emphasize that a veteran carrying out a mass shooting is the exception and that vets are more likely to harm themselves than anyone else. He called on more mental health awareness and resources to reduce the average of 22 veteran suicides a day.
“There’s a reason I get teary-eyed when I hear the National Anthem. It’s my home. I love my home,” said Riggle. He called for unity around core values at a time when partisans use events to fit their agendas.
“Our Constitutional rights – be it freedom of religion or speech or due process – we all still enjoy it today hundreds of years later because of what those brave Americans did in their time and what millions of brave Americans are doing right now in their time,” Riggle said.
NEW YORK (AP/WCBS 880) — Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia has won the New York City Marathon, holding off countryman Shura Kitata by 1.99 seconds.
Desisa finished in 2 hours, 5 minutes, 59 seconds. Last year’s winner, Geoffrey Kamworor of Kenya, finished third.
Mary Keitany of Kenya became the second woman to win the marathon four times, beating countrywoman Vivian Cheruiyot by 3 minutes, 13 seconds.
Keitany ran the race in 2:22:48, the second fastest in history. Margaret Okayo of Kenya holds the record of 2:22:31, which was set in 2003.
The victory was Keitany’s fourth in New York in the last five years. She won in 2014, 2015 and 2016 before coming in second last year to American Shalane Flanagan. Keitany joined Grete Waitz as the only women to win the marathon four times. Waitz, a Norwegian, won the marathon nine times between 1978-1988.
Flanagan finished third.
More than 50,000 runners began their 26.2-mile journey across the five boroughs on a sunny Sunday morning as part of the 47th New York City Marathon.
They trained in darkness and rain, and through pain, for this day, which starts on Staten Island, winding through Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan and the Bronx, before ending back in Central Park.
EDISON, N.J. (WCBS 880) — Recently, WCBS 880’s Mike Sugerman and Neil A. Carousso were in Edison, New Jersey, and they were hungry.
So they went to Harold’s Deli, where Sugerman was in the market for some pastrami. But then he looked at the menu.
The extra-large pastrami sandwich cost $60. That’s right, $60.
That’s a lot for a pastrami sandwich. But it’s not quite that simple.
“If you think of it, we’re cheaper than McDonald’s,” said owner Harold Jaffe.
And then Sugerman saw the sandwich – and it all started to make sense. It’s piled high enough to reach from a man’s belly to his shoulders.
“The triple decker – that will feed 10 to 12 people,” Jaffe said.
It has four pounds of meat.
“Three of us ate, and three wives are going to on $25 worth of pastrami,” said Sal Criscuolo.
“Plenty of leftovers – it’s has some weight,” added Harrison Schwartz.
Criscoulo and Schwartz are regulars here.
“I got engaged over there at table three over there. Harold brought the ring on a plate of orders,” Schwartz said. “I love pastrami. What can I say?”
Harold’s is regularly reviewed as among the top delis in the nation. It opened in 1990, after Jaffe spent years as the general manager of the now defunct Carnegie Deli.
He had bigger ideas involving bigger sandwiches.
“So people talk about it,” Jaffe said. “I haven’t spent 10 cents on advertisement.”
Delis are having a hard time these days. Many are closing. And over the years, people have come to expect large portions.
Jaffe has had no trouble.
“The only complaint is that our stomachs aren’t big enough to eat more. It’s that good,” said Criscuolo, who with Schwartz is a restaurant reviewer for the Facebook blog Breakthrough.
David Sklar doesn’t write about Harold’s, but he’s been coming to the deli for 25 years.
“I had a 29-inch waist. Now I have a 29-inch ankle,” he said.
Sugerman didn’t want that. So he just had a diet cream soda.
Oh who was he kidding? The food was all delicious, and Sugerman and Carousso were not hungry when they left.
Philip Levy, owner of Theatricks by Phil, is a retired junior high school teacher of 34 years and a full-time entertainer, making people laugh and dazzling the community with magic. Neil A. Carousso sits down for an interview in his East Northport residence, as seen on Sunday’s “The Neil A. Carousso Show.”
Featured Image: Levy (standing) shows a U.S. Army veteran one of his magic tricks at a veterans event at the VFW in Farmingdale on March 3. (Courtesy: Christian Ladigoski, Carousso Enterprises.)