Freeport woman honors fallen friend

Travels to Washington to read names of soldiers killed in Vietnam

With her right index finger, Barbara Horn traced the “V” inscribed on the cold black granite wall.  The morning sun shone on her face as a brisk breeze tussled her silver hair on Nov. 10. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. She was close, in a way, to her childhood friend for the first time since their younger days playing tetherball at Freeport’s Northwest Park.

Barbara Horn, a Freeport native and current Long Beach resident, took part in the 35th annual reading of names at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 10. Photo Credit: Nadya Nataly/Herald

“He was the tall skinny kid with the easy, wide grin across his face,” Horn, who now lives in Long Beach, recalled of Viertus Reikmans, who grew up in Freeport and served as an Army mechanic in Vietnam. He was killed by “friendly fire” in August 1969 after his unit was attacked.

Kneeling in front of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C., within arm’s length of Reikmans’s name inscribed on the granite, she cried. “I just can’t believe that I’m here and I’m doing this today,” Horn said, as she wiped away her tears.

In honor of Veterans Day,  Horn applied to the lottery and won the opportunity to read Reikmans’s name as part of an annual ceremony at the Wall. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund is the nonprofit organization who founded the Wall.

“I knew I had to do this for Viertus,” she said, as she waited for her turn to

Viesturs Reikmanis pictured preparing his uniform before deploying to Vietnam in 1969.
Courtesy of  Silvija Reikmans

read the set of names assigned to her by the Memorial Fund.

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial honors service members who fought — and died — in the Vietnam War, including in Vietnam and other parts of Southeast Asia.

More than 2.7 million Americans, including 265,000 women, served in Vietnam from 1964 to 1975. In all, 58,000 were killed and 304,000 were wounded. All of the names of the dead appear on the Wall.

Veterans and families were seen walking solemnly around the Memorial last Friday, searching for the names of family members and friends at the Constitutional Gardens near the National Mall, just northeast of the Lincoln Memorial, where the Memorial stands. Each year more than 3 million visitors come to pay homage to the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice in Vietnam.

Once at the lectern, Horn took her time reading each name and honoring each solider. When she reached Reikmans’s name, she paused, and with tears filling her eyes, she read his name to the audience of veterans and families.

“When she stood and read his name, it was as she was doing it for me too,” Silvija Reikman, 66, Viertus’s younger sister, said. She was unable to attend the ceremony, but was able to watch Horn read her brother’s name via video.

Reikman and his family moved to Freeport in 1954 from Germany.  He graduated from Freeport High School in 1967 and worked at the Texaco service station off Sunrise Highway. His goal, according to Silvija, was to become a mechanic and eventually open his own shop in Freeport.

“He joined the Army before his draft number was called,” Silvija, now a Virginia resident, said. “The Army recruiter told him if he signed up before his draft number was called, he could pick any division he wanted. He wanted to train to be a mechanic, so he joined.”

Viertus was 20 years old when he shipped off to Vietnam. He had been in the country a month, in Cam Ranh Bay, when the Viet Cong attacked his unit. The next day, while on guard duty, he was mistaken as a member of the Viet Cong and was killed by “friendly fire.”

“We were very nervous about him leaving,” Silvija recalled. “But he kept saying, ‘I’m going to be in with the mechanics, and it’s going to be one of the safest places to be. I’ll be safe and I’ll be back home.”

Silvija said Horn’s trip to the nation’s capital brought back a series of memories for her and her mother, Milda Jaudzems, now 90, who lives in Washington state. Silvija said her mother keeps a duffle bag with Viertus’s uniform, letters from the military, and sympathy letters from friends and family members under her bed.  Jaudzems, according to Horn, is one of the last Freeport Gold Star mothers who sent sons to Vietnam who is still alive. Gold Star families, also known as Gold Star American families, are the relatives of U.S. military members who died in battle. Gold Star status was awarded to the Reikmans family shortly after his death.

“After all of these years, I still think of him, Viertus, morning and night,” Jaudzems said. “I can’t get over that he was killed by one of our own. I wish people could understand what it’s like to be a Gold Star family.”

“My heart goes to all of the people that have kept him in their memories,” Silvija said in a cracked voice. “It was an honor for us to have someone who knew him read his name.”


Paola Franqui – the eyes behind Monaris’ lenses

Manhattan, November 2nd, 2017

While people rush across town often unknowledgeable of what and who surrounds them, someone stands out from the crowd. Paola Franqui also known as Monaris stops and watches the movement of the faces that come to illustrate her pictures. She captures through her camera lenses’ stories rather than images and the sensibility of how she sees the world is translated into the final product of what her photographs reveal.

Born in Puerto Rico Paola moved to the United States when she was 14 – today she calls Edison, New Jersey home. Even though the passion for photography accompanied her throughout her life, only seven months ago she decided to pursue a full-time career in the field.

As a photographer, Paola has had the chance to visit many places around the world and document her experiences through the collection of pictures she has from each one of those places. In 2017 she visited Argentina, Venice, Rome, London, Paris, and Cuba on a trip sponsored by Sony Alpha Imaging Collective which Paola is a member of – she is currently in Puerto Rico on photographer duty documenting her journey.

On this digital era, Paola uses social media platforms such as Instagram to showcase her work. She currently has over 100k followers on her Instagram account with more than 2,400 posts.

Paola believes she has found her life’s calling, she is passionate about developing her craft and affirms that there is always room to grow and improve:

“If you are comfortable with what you are doing you are never going to grow; you will never get better. Sometimes I don’t like what I do, and this pushes me to find new perspectives and try different things – it’s the beauty of growing as an artist and as a person.”

Paola Franqui still gets goosebumps while in action as she cruises the crowd of people looking beyond the movement and stopping to capture the story of an instant.

Find out more about Paola Franqui at:


Personal website




Practice Self-Love in College with Daybreaker Campus

Millennials living on their own in New York need a new way to get up and exercise in the morning. Yoga, music, and dance are just some of the ways students try to relieve stress – but what if you can do that with over 100 people before sunrise. Instead of going to the same old gym, get your heart pumping with a new form of self-expression with Daybreaker Campus.

The Daybreaker Campus experience includes an hour-long yoga session led by top fitness influencers in the wellness industry, followed by a two-hour dance party with world renowned DJs. Alcohol is not involved. Special guests have included finalists from NBC’s The Voice.

For more information on Daybreaker and how to get your school involved visit their website here. Let your campus be a place of self-expression.

Long Island Views

Fall is a beautiful time for festive adventures out and about and what better place to do that other than beautiful Long Island?  Long Island holds some of the most dazzling beaches and forest areas you can find south of the city. These eight breathtaking spots will not only have you in awe, but your followers too.Once they see you in such exotic looking places, they’ll be envious with the need to go there themselves. In no particular order, here are ten gorgeous spots on LI that you must see!


  1. Norman J. Levy Park, Merrick, NY 11566

With 52 acres, this land uplifts to about 115 feet enabling views of the south shore coast as well as the NYC skyline. In addition to three miles of jogging and walking paths, the park has a farm with goats and chickens as well as a 50 ft fishing pier. This hidden preserve is located right off the Meadowbrook State Parkway. Whether you’re walking through the preserve for health or for fun, it is breathtaking at all points and would look nice in any picture.


Norman J. Levy Park pier.

Photo Courtesy of the Town of Hempstead


  1. Smith’s Point Beach, Shirley, NY

Smith Point Park, located on the barrier island of Fire Island, is a haven for sportsmen, surfers and beach lovers. An extremely popular facility, the park has white sands, rolling Atlantic surf and an adjoining camping facility that attract both Suffolk County residents and tourists. This beautiful beach is one of many magnificent oceanic spots on Long Island that is just waiting to be captured by your camera.


Smith’s Point Beach sunset.

Photo Courtesy by William Gorman



Smith’s Point Beach rocks and ocean.

Photo Courtesy by William Gorman



Smith’s Point Beach, sun descending by the trees.

Photo Courtesy by William Gorman



  1. Downport, Port Jefferson, NY

The downtown area of Port Jefferson acquires a stunning marina where you can walk on the pier and gaze into the sunset as ships, big and small dock. With a cute little seaside town having quaint shops and restaurants, sitting outside or walking down the streets on a sunny day is the perfect formula for an amazing photoshoot in Downport.


Port Jefferson sunset.

Photo Courtesy by William Gorman



  1. Cedar Beach Pier, Harbor Beach Rd in Mt. Sinai, NY

Boasting between three and four miles of white sand stretching along the Atlantic Ocean, Cedar Beach has lots of active fun to offer. Areas are designated for surfing, volleyball, and fishing – including a handicapped-accessible fishing dock – and there are courts for basketball and handball. The amazing scenery will make you feel as though you could fly out into the lovely sunsets.


Cedar Beach Pier panorama shot.

Photo Courtesy by William Gorman



Cedar Beach Pier sunset.

Photo Courtesy by William Gorman



  1. Caleb Smith State Park Preserve, Smithtown, NY

Nestled in the heart of Smithtown, Caleb Smith State Park Preserve is one of only two state nature preserves on Long Island. Within its 543 acres are a variety of habitats offering guests picturesque views that change with the seasons. Caleb Smith is a passive use park. This not only helps protect the local plant and wildlife populations but also allows visitors to escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and enjoy the quiet serenity that can only be found in nature.


Caleb Smith State Park, Smithtown, NY
A beautiful autumn day on the pond at Caleb Smith State Park.

Photo Courtesy of


  1. Frank Melville Memorial Park, Setauket, NY

Within the park are five structures, including a Greek revival post office, a simulated grist mill, the cottage of the last working miller, an early 20th century barn, and a meeting house, now called the Bates House. The park and its buildings are included on the National Register of Historic Places.


The park was designed using existing ponds surrounded by native species of plants and trees. It covers 26 acres, including an estuary and natural woodland with more than 200 varieties of plants and trees. It may feel as if you’re in some far off place, in a land far away. The mystical scenery will draw not only you in but the magical photos you’ll soon take.


Frank Melville Memorial Park bridge.

Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia


  1. Muttontown Preserve, Jericho-Oyster Bay Road, Muttontown Lane, East Norwich, NY 11732

Comprising 550 acres of fields, woodlands, ponds and estate grounds, Muttontown is Nassau County’s largest nature preserve and one of the most stunning settings on Long Island. The preserve includes miles of marked nature trails with local wildflowers, trees, birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians. Another esoteric landscape where you’re never going to want to leave — not without any evidence anyway.



Muttontown Preserve old staircase.

Photo Courtesy of



Muttontown Preserve old building pieces.

Photo Courtesy of Yelp

  1. Jayne’s Hill, West Hills, Town of Huntington, NY

Also known as High Hill, West Hills, Oakley’s Hill, and Janes Hill. It is the highest point on Long Island, New York, with an elevation of between 387 feet and 400.9 feet above sea level. This charming mountain top-like hill will make you feel as though you’re on top of the world. With The Sound of Music type feel to it, you have to take an awesome picture if only because  the hills are alive with the sound of your flash.

Jayne’s Hill hilltop views.

Photo Courtesy of

Another Side of Victory

This is Lori Wright’s story of triumph and victory after the devastating loss of her father-in-law, well-known gospel singer Reverend Timothy Wright, mother-in-law Betty Wright, and her son DJ in 2008.  Today she is moving forward and using the traumatic experience to give back to others and honor the legacy of her son through the “DJ Wright Memorial Scholarship fund.”

Lori plans to host the scholarship fund on an annual basis, and has set aside part of this year’s proceeds to give to students and their parents in Texas, who suffered great loss after Hurricane Harvey. If you’d like to donate to the DJ Wright Memorial Scholarship fund, click here.

Lori is the mother of two other boys, Deion and Dylan. She is also an author, singer, motivational speaker, and most recently a fashion designer.  Lori just started a new clothing line this year for little boys called DABI.


Also, look out for Lori’s new book and single entitled, “Another Side of Victory.” In Lori’s words: “I am another side of victory!”