North Salem honors fallen veterans, stays mindful of current armed forces

(NORTH SALEM, N.Y.)-- Rainy weather did not keep North Salem residents from observing Memorial Day on Monday, May 29. Those that were scheduled to march in the parade simply moved the ceremony to the Croton Falls Volunteer Firehouse. The fire trucks were temporarily relocated to accommodate the dozens of community members that gathered for the occasion. The fire department, the American Legion, town officials, the Scouts, various sports leagues, the 4-H club and others from the community huddled in the firehouse for the annual ceremony, followed by speeches and refreshments. The amount of people may have been overwhelming for one Boy Scout, who passed out during the ceremony, but the rest of the event went off without a hitch, and officials said the Scout was back on his feet after just a few moments. Those who spoke at the ceremony acknowledged the historical context of the event and incorporated remarks and ideas from leaders past into their speeches. Town Supervisor Warren Lucas discussed the trauma of the Civil War and the sacrifice that Abraham Lincoln called “the last full measure of devotion,” that those soldiers and many since have made. “Many brave Americans have fought to secure our country and for our way of life and some gave their last full measure,” Lucas said. “We declare, as a proud and grateful nation, that their sacrifice will never be forgotten and just as we honor them, we also hold their memories and their families close.” “What’s nice about this event is that we actually read the names of the North Salem men who died in combat,” said Sgt. Andy Sandor, adjutant for the American Legion Post 1866. Although the holiday’s origins are rooted in the soldiers that died many years ago, Lucas and others that commented were quick to remind listeners that recent battles in the Middle East have also claimed American lives, and the Global War on Terrorism is ongoing. As those that served in WWII are aging, and those that served in wars prior are often remembered on Memorial Day, Sandor said it’s important to point out the similarities that exist between the various eras of veterans. “They were the same age as the guys that are serving right now,” Sandor said. “America needs to remember that especially now that we have an all-volunteer force.” Herb Geller, a 95-year-old WWII veteran and commander of the American Legion Post 1866, also said a few words to mark the occasion. He took the opportunity to remind those in attendenace that the contributions of the county’s military personnel continue today, especially in light of recent ISIS attacks. The need for military service never seems to go away, he remarked. “Believe me, we have a fight on our hands almost like we had in World War II,” he said. Once the ceremony was complete, North Salem residents took the opportunity to enjoy the day off from work, and the company of their fellow residents while they were all gathered in one spot. Boy Scout Aaron Brethower, of North Salem Troop 1 carried the troop flag during the ceremony. His troop is involved every year, and although he and his fellow scouts recognize the day’s solemnity, he said they enjoy participating in the event and look forward to the annual ultimate frisbee game that usually follows. Unfortunately, this year’s game was rained out, but the North Salem High School student said he still enjoyed the day. Wilfredo and Jasmine Cuascut have attended the ceremony with their children Nyah, 8, and Evan, 5, for the last few years. Nyah and Evan were supposed to participate in the parade, however they still attended the event as a family despite the rain. Jasmine and Wilfredo said they feel it’s important to educate their children on the day’s significance, as well as to be involved in the community, especially now that one of Wilfredo’s brothers recently enlisted. “Even for adults, it’s always good to be educated as to how we got where we are today, and to remember those that sacrifice their lives,” Jasmine said.

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