After watching a segment on CBS Evening News back in mid-April of Bronx legend Joe Binder, Don O’Connell the Executive Director of Veterans Helping Veterans Worldwide (VHVW) thought it was a great piece but wanted to go a step further in honoring the 107 year Bronx resident.
O’Connell presented Joe’s background to the (VHVW) board which included retiring from his position at Mario’s Restaurant at 102 years old and continuing his services of singing and storytelling at Pasquale’s Rigoletto every Saturday night. It was a quick decision on honoring him with a Veteran’s Recognition Award for his continued service to the community.
The only problem that came about in this situation was delivery of the award to Binder. Normally the award is sent to a local Ambassador and they present the award to the recipient. Since there was no New York liaison, O’Connell took this opportunity to ask a past recipient, Gonzalo Duran CEO Devil Dog USA Inc. and Chairman of the Bronx Veteran Chamber of Commerce. Recognizing that this was a good fit, he made him the official New York Ambassador.
Duran was aware of Binder’s fame in the community, annually seeing banners for his birthday every year in Little Italy but was surprised to find out his Navy background. Once being told of his Veteran status Duran gladly accepted the responsibility of delivering this award. Amazed with Binder’s story Duran decided to present the award himself at Binder’s favorite location. On a regular Saturday night during his intermission, Binder was presented with his award as restaurant patrons and members of the Bronx Veteran Chamber of Commerce looked on.
Duran said, “It’s truly an honor to present this award to someone who has given the Veteran community such a positive outward appearance and hopes that someday he can earn the admiration of the Bronx community, as Joe has achieved.”
Photos courtesy of Debbie Powers