On a chilly Monday evening, dozens of people gathered on the front lawn of the Chelberg & Battle American Legion Post 388 in Sag Harbor. They listened as Commander Marty Knab spoke of one of the most beloved couples the organization has ever seen.
“It was like they were royalty,” Mr. Knab said of Frank and Anne Santacroce, former members of the post.
With their children and granddaughter present, the Santacroces were honored by the American Legion with a bench dedicated in their memory on Monday, September 22. Both served in the U.S. Army during World War II, with Mr. Santacroce in the infantry division and Mrs. Santacroce—then Anne Tedesco of Brooklyn—as first lieutenant in the nurses’ corps.
Mr. Santacroce, a native of Sag Harbor, joined the American Legion shortly after being discharged from the service in 1945, serving as commander from 1948 to 1949. Once they were married after the war, Mrs. Santacroce eventually joined the legion as well.
The bench dedication came at the request of the couple’s son Michael, just in time for the legion to celebrate 60 years at its location on Bay Street. Mr. Santacroce had been instrumental in moving the organization from its original meeting space on the top floor of Sag Harbor’s municipal building on Main Street to where it is today, with the help of other legion members.
“They made the creation of this building a priority,” Mr. Knab said during the dedication ceremony on Monday. “It is because of their foresight … [we] can enjoy these grounds and the communal use of the facilities.”
Before a rendition of “God Bless America,” which the whole audience sang, Michael Santacroce spoke of how happy his parents would have been to see all that the legion has done since their deaths—Mr. Santacroce in 2009 and Mrs. Santacroce in 2012. “Mom and Dad would be proud,” he said.
The couple’s daughter, Cathy Santacroce-Worwetz, said she could not have thought of a more beautiful way to memorialize her parents than the wooden bench that now sits along the chain link fence at the edge of the legion’s property. “It’s like their honor and their dedication to this country will live on,” she said.