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  • Wednesday, November 11, 2015

    Veterans Day Tribute Occurs in Sea of Flags

    A sea of red, white and blue provided the backdrop for Veterans Day ceremonies in Utica, where American Legion-led tributes and wreath-laying took place at six monuments around the city – including in the middle of 1,000 tall American flags set up in neat rows along the Memorial Parkway to honor veterans.

    In fact, the American Legion Family was out in force across the state Wednesday honoring veterans by participating in parades, wreath-laying ceremonies, and dedication of roads and walkways to veterans.

    In Henrietta near Rochester, for example, Post 1151 dedicated a memorial walkway that a Boy Scout built as his Eagle project.

    “To do this walkway for us, and lay the bricks and put it together, it goes to show you that young people are not forgetting what our veterans have done,” former Monroe County Executive Lucien Morin told WROC TV. Also celebrated at Wednesday’s event at the post was a new sign that will hang over a portion of Route 15A, the TV station reported. Area leaders are dedicating that portion of the highway to local veterans.


    Color Guard

    American Legion color guard marches in America’s Parade. Photo by DOUG MALIN

    A contingent of the Legion Family – Legionnaires, the American Legion Auxiliary, the Sons of the American Legion and American Legion Riders – joined New York City’s America’s Parade, billed as the largest celebration of veterans in the country. Despite cold temperatures and occasional sprinkles, New York residents and visitors to the city lined the sidewalks of Fifth Avenue for the parade, cheering, waving U.S. flags and sometimes holding signs to thank veterans and members of the military marching in front of them. “I’ve always wanted to come down here,” said Department Commander James Yermas, who marched in the parade along with Department Adjutant James Casey and other Legion Family leaders and members. “…This just makes me feel so good on Veterans Day to see all this support for our veterans. The people do a good job here.”

    “America’s Parade” featured more than 250 groups and 200,000 participants and received sponsorship from The American Legion. This year’s theme commemorated the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II and the 25th anniversary of Operation Desert Shield.

    On Staten Island, holiday shoppers got the chance to learn what Veterans Day means at the Staten Island Mall Wednesday morning as Richmond County American Legion held its annual ceremony honoring veterans. Various speakers paid tribute to the legacies of U.S. military service members, both past and present, the Staten Island Advance reported. Tottenville American Legion Post 126 Commander Walt Osborn told the Advance how grateful he was for the annual event.

    “People shopping in the mall will stop, and look over, and come to thank us for our service, which really means a lot to all of us.”

    At ceremonies in Corning, Korean War veteran Bill Crane laid a wreath at the base of the monument at Veterans Memorial Park as the Corning American Legion Color Guard presented the colors, the Corning Leader reported. Then Legion Post Commander Frank Edger spoke of the sacrifices that service members and their families make.

    Up north in Warrensburg, American Legion Post 446 Adjutant Gene Pierce expressed his frustration with politicians “paying lip service” and the VA bureaucracy in remarks at the annual Veterans Day service, the Lake George Examiner reported. “… I’ve about had it with the way veterans are treated.” The news outlet quoted Pierce: “We have now gotten to the point where (we) put the veteran back in the glass and break in case of emergency.” The Legion is one place where veterans can get help, he added.

    Chris Urban

    Post 229 Commander Chris Urban

    Utica Post 229 Commander Chris Urban led the Utica ceremonies, noting at one point that veterans are set apart and share a bond because of the oath they took to defend America and even put themselves in harm’s way.

    Then he quoted President Ronald Reagan’s 1982 radio address:

    “In James Michener’s book, ‘The Bridges at Toko-Ri’, he writes of an officer waiting through the night for the return of planes to a carrier as dawn is coming on. And he asks, ‘Where do we find such men?’ Well, we find them where we’ve always found them. They are the product of the freest society man has ever known. They make a commitment to the military – make it freely, because the birthright we share as Americans is worth defending. God bless America.”

    The 1,000 flags were a project of the Good News Foundation, the American Legion, and other organizations. The Good News Foundation used the flag project as a way to honor veterans and raise money for counseling services for veterans and their families.

    Legionnaires Brian Lazore, left, and Jim George render salutes during Veterans Day ceremonies along the flag-strewn Memorial Parkway in Utica. With them is Lazore's daughter, Olivia.

    Legionnaires Brian Lazore, left, and Jim George render salutes during Veterans Day ceremonies along the flag-strewn Memorial Parkway in Utica. With them is Lazore’s daughter, Olivia.