A drizzling rain did not keep people from coming to the Veterans Memorial in Plattekill last Wednesday to honor and remember all Veterans who have served their country in a branch of the Armed Forces. The park has stone benches representing the Coast Guard, Air Force, Navy, Army and Marine Corps.
Supervisor Joe Croce welcomed everyone as all Veterans formed a half circle around the perimeter of the memorial. A triangular folded American Flag was passed from Veteran to Veteran and then raised on the center flagpole as Kim Rosenmier sang the National Anthem.
Pastor Steve Sherwood offered an Invocation.
“We have gathered together here to honor and appreciate our brothers and sisters who have entered into service with us. We honor, Lord God, those people that we never met that are still in service; we honor them for what they’re doing,” he said.
Pastor Sherwood prayed for those who have served to be healed of their battle scars and, “I pray Lord God that you would reward them for their selflessness for putting their lives aside...and come to know you and glorify your name in this great country that we have; in the name of Jesus Christ we pray. Amen.”
Marine Lt. Col. Stuart C. Smith Jr. said Veterans Day was made an official holiday in 1938, primarily as a day to honor Veterans of WW I. Two more wars followed – WW II and the Korean Conflict – and on June 1, 1954 Congress amended the commemoration from its original name of Armistice Day that marked the end of WW I to Veterans Day, “so the day would honor Veterans of all wars. Each year on November 11th the nation pauses to express its deep gratitude and sincere appreciation for its military Veterans and their brave and selfless service to this country.”
Lt. Col. Smith described Veterans Day as a, “celebration of those who swore an oath to protect our country and place themselves in harms way to do it. Along with many countries round the world, we are a free people because of these brave men and women and on Veterans Day we proudly honor them and their service.”
Lt. Col. Smith said this day allows Americans, “the opportunity to reflect upon and show our gratitude to the men and women who have selflessly given of themselves and their families to defend our nation’s independence, and by extension, our freedoms as individual Americans.” He estimated there are 17 million Veterans in the United States, which represents about 7% of the adult population in the country. Currently, there are 1.3 million who are serving on active duty, which is less than half of 1% of the U.S. population.
“I offer my heartfelt thanks to every Veteran here today and across the nation who has ever worn the uniform of the United States Armed Forces,” he said. “Thank you for answering the call of duty, thank you for your courage and thank you for the extraordinary sacrifices you and your families have made on our behalf in the name of freedom, liberty and peace.”
Smith concluded with a quote from President Ronald Reagan; “Veterans know better than anyone else the price of freedom for they’ve suffered the scars of war and we can offer them no better tribute than to protect what they have won for us.”
Three Plattekill Veterans placed wreaths at the memorial, followed by a moment of silence and two rings of a bell. Taps was played by Jim Farinelli, Commander of the Hudson Valley Submarines, and Kim Rosenmier sang ‘God Bless America.’
Supervisor Croce said it should not just be Veterans Day when we remember the sacrifices that have been made by the men and women in the services.
“I urge you all that if you know a Veteran, see a Veteran or a member of their family, you don’t have to wait until Veterans Day to thank them for the sacrifices that they made,” he said.
Town Councilman Larry Farrelly served in the U. S. Army from 1960-63 in Virginia, California and Tennessee. He instructed midshipman coming out of the academy how to run a boat and taught safety procedures to officers when lowering a ramp to let people off.
Farrelly said he did not think about a Veterans association when he mustered out of the service in 1963, “but today I think the world of it.”
In a subsequent interview, Lt. Col. Smith joined the military in January 1999 and did 8 years of active duty before transitioning to the Reserves, followed by a few mobilizations.
“Cumulatively I am approaching my 22nd year of service in January 2021 and I continue to serve,” he said. “I did three assignments in Iraq and one in Afghanistan.”
Smith said there were tough moments during his service, “but I do reflect back on the experiences fondly overall with the people you are surrounded by and the achievements that we had while we were over there.”
Smith comes every year to the service in full dress uniform.
“I enjoy bringing attention and awareness to the Veterans in our community who in time will reintegrate back into society after their military service,” he said. “It’s days like today, Veterans Day, when we’re honoring those men and women for their contributions to our nation.”