OSWEGO, NY – The Port City paused Monday to honor veterans past and present.
A large crowd, many decked out in red, white and blue, ringed Veterans’ Memorial Park under partly cloudy skies as the temperature closed in on 70 degrees. Previous celebrations have been chilly and some were plagued with showers.
Memorial Day is more than just the first day of the summer season; it honors veterans from the Revolutionary War to today, according to Bill McCarthy of the Oswego Veterans’ Council.
“Americans need to remember why Memorial Day is special,” McCarthy said. “It’s about honor, duty and the ultimate sacrifice. It’s about those who gave their lives for the freedoms we enjoy.”
“Remember this number ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Å“ 1,961,680. That is the number we should say thanks to for this day of summer fun,” he explained. “That is the number of military personnel that have paid the (ultimate) price over the last 228 years in all of our country’s conflicts ranging from the Revolutionary War to today’s present conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. They have given the supreme sacrifice, their lives, so that today we can enjoy that day of summer fun.”
He highlighted a couple of other numbers, also.
There are 601,710 POWs and 161,489 MIA.
Memorial Day is sacred to all veterans and families of veterans, according to Dave Dirk, president of the city veterans’ council.
Everyone should observe Memorial Day, he said, “or at least ponder how different their lives would be without the courage of the many patriots who have died so the rest of us can live free.”
“They symbolize patriotism, virtue and courage. As a proud veteran of the United States Air Force, I am profoundly aware of the sacrifices that have been made by those veterans that are blessed to be with us today,” the mayor said.
Referring the to many memorials sprinkled throughout the historic Port City, the mayor noted, “these memorials that so often go unnoticed in the business of everyday life today humble us and make us enormously grateful for the sacrifices those engraved stones call to mind.”
Senator Darrel Aubertine also recognized “the importance of those who have given so much.”
“We also want to remember those who are still serving; those who are out there day in and day out protecting our rights and our freedoms,” he added.
“Memorial Day means something different for everyone; memories of fallen comrades, friends, sons, daughters, brothers and sisters. As we stand here together today, remember that the cost of freedom has a high price in human terms,” he said. “As we as a nation remember the lives lost we celebrate the lives lived and are forever grateful.”
We have to pay our debt to (the fallen veterans) and are obligated to preserve their memory “and teach our youth that nothing comes without a cost and sacrifices are meaningless without remembering,” he emphasized.