New Windsor residents, first responders and local veterans joined together, with other Americans across the country, on Friday, November 11 for the annual celebration and remembrance of Veterans Day. A Veterans Day Memorial Service was held at the Veterans Memorial monument at the corner of Route 94 and Route 9W.
The morning began with various members of the Color Guard from the Newburgh Free Academy Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps [ROTC], the New Windsor Police Department and members of the United States Marine Corps gathering at the New Windsor Fire Department firehouse and made their way to the memorial through Calvary Cemetery where a gathered crowd waited for their arrival.
As the Color Guard made their way to their posts, a fire alarm was sounded and local girl scouts from various local troops led the gathered crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance. Deacon Anthony Ferraiuolo was called up to the podium for the ceremony and led an opening prayer in remembrance of the day and to ask those gathered to pray for veterans.
“Together let us pray to God that every veteran of our nation’s armed forces feels truly and appropriately honored by the attention and appreciation of their fellow citizens. Let no one feel forgotten or neglected and let each feel the deep and enduring gratitude of our nation and its citizens. Let those future veterans who are currently serving on active duty also know that their fellow citizens are behind them and support them, and all they do, and when they become veterans and return to civilian life,” Ferraiuolo shared with the crowd. “Lord please turn your gaze towards those men and women who in their military service have sacrificed time, comfort, ambition, health and prosperity for the peace and safety of family, friends and others.”
At the conclusion of the prayer, American Legion Post 1796 Commander Joe Pifer formally welcomed the gathered crowd to the ceremony and recognized town officials, town staff and varying agencies present for the ceremony. In his opening remarks, Pifer provided a brief history. Veterans Day, as it is known today, was first celebrated in the year 1919 and was created by President Woodrow Wilson. The name for the holiday was first recognized as Armistice Day, which is in reference to the end of World War I on November 11, 1918.
In 1938, the United States Congress declared Armistice Day as a federal holiday and the name was changed in 1954 to Veterans Day. Since its creation, the holiday has recognized veterans from both past and present conflicts and times, thanking them for their sacrifice and service.
In attendance for the service was Lt. Col. Timothy Gallagher who was welcomed by the crowd as the guest speaker for the ceremony and is currently posted at Stewart Airport. Lt. Col. Gallagher is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy had served as support during Operations Iraqi Freedom and Inherent Resolve and was deployed to Afghanistan for a time.
He has served in various post that included Naval Aviator, S-2 Anti-Terrorism/Force Protection Officer, Flight Duty Officer and Quality Assurance Officer during the course of his career. He is also recognized as an Olmsted Scholar and received a Masters Degree in International Security. Accolades of Lt. Col. Gallagher include as a recipient of the Meritorious Service Medal, the Air Medal with bronze numeral four, the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal and the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal.
Gallagher thanked the town for welcoming him and his family to the area and was grateful to see many come out to remember this important day. “When we celebrate Veterans Day, we are truly standing on the shoulders of giants, men and women who sacrificed absolutely astounding numbers to protect our nation and its values,” said Gallagher. “For everybody who wore the uniform, I hope you’re very proud of your service. I know I’m incredibly grateful for your service and the sacrifices you and your family made.”
At the conclusion of Gallagher’s remarks, various groups and agencies presented wreaths at the memorial. These included the New Windsor American Legion Post 1796, Catholic War Veterans, Vails Gate Fire Department, New Windsor Fire Department, the town’s officials and employees, the New Windsor Police Department, the girl scout troops and leaders, the NFA JROTC, the American Legion Ladies Auxiliary, the Sons of the American Legion Post 1796 and others present.
The playing of God Bless America over the loudspeaker was followed by the Catholic War Veterans Firing Squad. Taps on the bugle by Assembly Candidate Christopher Eachus and the playing of Amazing Grace on the bagpipes by Joe Stankiewiz also followed. A final prayer concluded the ceremony proceedings at the memorial and community members dispersed for a final remembrance at the cemetery and refreshments at the American Legion hall.