FULTON, NY – The Fulton Veterans Council, headed by President Garry Visconti, led a well attended Veterans Day ceremony in the city of Fulton.
Dozens of community residents, local elected officials, law enforcement, and veterans themselves braved the chilly winds off the Oswego River as they stood around the many flags that fly with pride at Veterans Park.
Father Fuchs, a World War II veteran, began the ceremony with an opening prayer.
The 2016 Veteran of the Year selected by the Fulton Veterans Council, Alan DeLine then led the crowd through the Pledge of Allegiance followed by Bonnie Fauler singing the National Anthem with triumphant crowd participation.
Ray Caprin of the Fulton Elks club spoke of the many struggles that veterans face when they return home from combat despite the positive recognition they receive for their service on days like Veterans Day.
Citing the struggles facing many veterans including finding gainful employment, post traumatic stress disorder, and the ability to find the necessary resources for counseling and help, he noted a nationwide study that reported 22 veterans a day commit suicide in the United States.
“At the Elks, we believe there is no one more important than the men and women who fight for our country,” Caprin said, encouraging everyone in attendance to get involved in any number of available organizations to support our veterans and lower these numbers.
Bonnie Fauler sang a short song to raise hope for those struggling from post traumatic stress disorder, the “emotional turmoil that has resulted from experiencing upsetting, violent action,” she said.
While veterans face their own significant challenges upon completion of their brave duties, the ceremony also addressed the challenges and sacrifices made by the families of our military members.
Recently, a Fulton native that had been declared missing from the Korean War was located, identified, and returned to his hometown to be laid to rest in the company of his family.
For 66 years, from the time of his death in 1950 until his return home, the family of Cpl. Joseph Trepasso was left with unanswered questions and constant wondering of his whereabouts.
Fulton Mayor Ronald Woodward Sr. commended the entire city of Fulton on the respect and pride that was showcased in welcoming home this local war hero and finally giving his family some answers they had so desperately sought.
“We are especially blessed this year for Cpl. Trepasso to finally come home. I commend our veteran community and police and fire personnel who lined the streets for his long awaited return to his final resting place,” Woodward said.
Garry Visconti, president of the Fulton Veterans Council followed up with Mayor Woodward’s remarks.
“I’m very impressed, the entire city of Fulton showed up with a tremendous outpouring of support (for Cpl. Trepasso),” he said.
Visconti continued to elaborate on Fulton’s understanding of the importance of honoring our veterans.
“I had the honor of attending a veterans program at Lanigan Elementary School,” he said, of which he shared that veterans were recognized by students and staff of the school and lined to receive thanks from the young children. “I’m impressed with the turnout we have for all the veterans programs in this city.”
Visconti, believing that children should be active and involved with their community veterans, was excited to announce cub scouts from Pack 888 out of Oswego to share their ideas on what being a veteran means.
The young boys shared their responses which included “men and women who fought for our freedom,” and “the people who have sacrificed for our country.”
Following the trend of youth involvement, Visconti asked several children in attendance at the program to accompany Mayor Woodward and Veteran DeLine as they placed a wreath in the center of Veterans Park.
As more speakers shared their gratitude for our veterans, a fly over of four private pilots from Red Creek fulfilled the ceremony with an unexpected show of respect.
“I’m so proud to be a veteran in this community,” said Donna Kestner, director of Oswego County Veteran Services. “So many people have called our office to say thank you to all of our veterans. At this time, as the election has happened and some people are happy and some people are not, we need to be together. We can have our own opinions but stand together as brothers and sisters,” she said.
A 21-gun salute performed by members of the VFW Post 569 Honor Guard followed by the crowd joining hands and singing together “God Bless America” rounded out the ceremony as many people headed to the Fulton Elks Club for a luncheon and presentation of the 2017 Veteran of the Year.
Lawrence Macner, a retired Air Force veteran, a retired postal worker, and current sixth ward councilor for the Fulton Common Council, was handed the torch from current Veteran of the Year, Alan DeLine.
“He is well deserving of this honor,” Visconti said, as he listed the many achievements Macner has accomplished in his career and the many veterans organizations he is currently involved with.
Macner said he was both honored and humbled to receive this recognition and acknowledged his girlfriend and two daughters who were watching in support.
Recalling his military career, Macner said he knew in tenth grade, in the year 1970 as the Vietnam War was being fought “hot and heavy” that he wanted to serve his country.
In 1972, he began his 28 year military career with the United States Air Force beginning as a jet engine mechanic, finding himself ordered to serve in such places as close as Plattsburgh, New York and as far as Iceland.
In 1979, Macner took a seven year break from service and began a career as letter carrier at the local post office. He returned to the Air Force National Guard in 1986 continuing jet engine mechanic work but finishing his career as a quality assurance inspector.
He retired from the Air Force National Guard in 2008 and the following year retired from the post office.
Now, he represents his local veterans organizations and encourages other to participate in projects and agencies that support our veterans, including Wounded Warriors who Macner said he will regularly donate to for the rest of his life after a “humbling and eye opening experience” with members from the organization.
“I truly believe every veteran should be Veteran of the Year. After all, we are trained from day one to work as team,” he said. “Please remember our men and women in uniform in your daily thoughts.”
Alan DeLine handed off the title Veteran of the Year to Macner, adding “I’m glad to have such a nice gentleman with a good record replacing me.”
Visconti told Oswego County Today that all veterans groups find it hard to get membership.
“There are a lot that are eligible to join, but do not for one reason or another,” he said, encouraging any and all veterans to look into joining a local organization.
A luncheon sponsored by the Fulton Veterans Council, which includes representatives from all local veterans organizations, and a final reminder to thank your nation’s veterans concluded the day’s ceremonies.
Members of the VFW Post 569 Honor Guard perform a 21-gun salute at the 2016 Veterans Day ceremony in Fulton. With only four members available, President of the Fulton Veterans Council, Garry Visconti, encourages more veterans to get involved with local veterans organizations.