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  • Tuesday, May 29, 2018

    Legion Proud: From Commander’s Op-Ed to Observances Across State

    Legion color guard

    American Legion Color Guard from Waterville Post 92 helped lead the Memorial Day parade in the village of Waterville on Monday.

    “None will be forgotten.”

    That is how Department Commander Rena Nessler put it in a Memorial Day op-ed piece in the New York Post. She reminded readers that Memorial Day is officially recognized as first having been celebrated upstate in Waterloo in 1866 as a community remembrance (then known as Decoration Day). When the first official Decoration Day ceremonies were held at Arlington National Cemetery in 1868, James A. Garfield, a future president and a Civil War combat veteran, told the thousands gathered, “For love of country they accepted death, and thus resolved all doubts, and made immortal their patriotism and their virtue.”

    “Today,” Commander Nessler wrote, “we still remember their patriotism and virtue, and that of the scores who have selflessly sacrificed since to make this the greatest country in the world.”

    Legionnaires render salutes

    Legionnaires render salutes under the Soldiers and Sailors Monument in Utica. At right is Utica Post 229 Commander Jim George.

    Utica American Legion Post 229 struck up a similar theme, kicking off a series of wreath-laying ceremonies at Utica’s Civil War Soldiers and Sailors Monument on Monday. “One flag, one land, one heart, one hand, one nation evermore,” Utica Post Commander Jim George declared to the crowd, quoting the inscription around the top of the circular monument.

    Like Utica Post, the American Legion organized Memorial Day observances in communities across the state.

    A few examples:

    — In Waterville, C. J. Fulmer American Legion Post 92 led a morning parade featuring a couple of Legion Riders, the post color guard, classic cars ferrying older Legionnaires, fire and emergency vehicles, and two Waterville Central School marching bands.

    — In Pearl River, John H. Secor American Legion Post 329 hosted the annual parade.

    — On Long Island, parades highlighted Memorial Day in a number of communities. “Today is a sacred day, for all the people that fought for our freedom,” declared Bill Wolf, commander of Wilson Ritch Post 432 in Port Jefferson Station, Newsday reported.