OSWEGO, NY – Once again, dozens of people visited Veterans’ Memorial Park on Monday to honor and thank the men and women who fought and died for our freedoms.
Members of the area veterans’ and service groups spent the early morning visiting various parks and cemeteries in Oswego and surrounding communities paying tribute to our nation’s veterans.
A few onlookers, several with flags and cameras, lined the parade route from West Park to Veterans’ Memorial Park shortly before 11 a.m. They applauded as the group marched by.
The larger crowd, many decked out in red, white and blue, ringed Veterans’ Memorial Park under the clear skies and warm temperatures greeted the group as it marched into the park.
The Snowbelters performed patriotic songs during the ceremony.
Memorial Day is sacred to all veterans and families of veterans, according to George Hoffman Jr., of the Oswego City Veterans’ Council and the master of ceremonies.
He was joined on stage by Oswego Mayor Billy Barlow and Assemblyman Will Barclay.
“Today is the unofficial first day of the summer season. However, let’s not forget who gave us these times of pleasure and enjoyment. Do we, or our children, know why this day is so important? It is a time to remember those who gave so much so we can enjoy all these events. The sad part is that if we don’t instill in our youths’ minds the importance of this day, it will soon be forgotten,” Hoffman said. “This Memorial Day, we pay tribute to the heroic patriots who made the ultimate sacrifice; those who rose up and bravely fought for something greater than themselves. We honor their service, mourn their loss and remember the families they left behind.”
We must ensure that the youth of today understand the true cost of freedom, he added.
“For those who fought for it, freedom has a flavor the unprotected will never know,” Hoffman said. “Do me just one favor this Memorial Day. Pay tribute to those who gave all and if you encounter a living veteran or military person today, or any day, just say ‘thanks.’ That’s all the pay we need.”
The large crowd responded with a hearty round of applause to thank the veterans present at the ceremony.
“It is very important to remember why we celebrate this holiday. The purpose is to honor those who never returned home and made the ultimate sacrifice. For them, on behalf of the city of Oswego, we are forever grateful,” Mayor Barlow said. “I’d like to thank all the veterans that are serving and have served.”
Because of the sacrifice of our veterans, “we can go about our daily lives and live as Americans,” he added.
“I think this is one of the biggest crowds we’ve had. That makes my heart feel good that people really do care about Memorial Day,” Assemblyman Barclay said.
The country celebrates its military three days each year, Armed Forces Day, Memorial Day and Veterans’ Day, he noted.
Memorial Day is the most solemn of all, he said, adding, “This is when we honor those veterans who gave their lives for our country. Memorial Day gives us a chance to pause and reflects upon those American values that make the United States worth fighting for and to give thanks to those who made the ultimate sacrifice to preserve them.”
Unfortunately today, we still wage a war against terror – and the cost has been high, he added.
“The fighting for freedom continues. So, this Memorial Day, let’s resolve to remember what our nation stands for,” Barclay said.
Earlier in the day, veterans representing several organizations were out visiting cemeteries and parks around the area in honor of their fallen comrades.
Historically, the AMVETS, the American Legion, the VFW posts, Oswego Elks Lodge, Polish Legion of American Veterans, Ancient Order of Hibernians and the Knights of Columbus all contribute to the Port City’s Memorial Day observance.
VETERANS OF THE YEAR
Walt Ferens (deceased) – 2001
Bernard France – 2002
Anthony Leotta – 2003
George Clifford (deceased) – 2004
Gene Saloga (deceased) – 2005
Fred Crisafulli – 2006
John Kosteroski (deceased) – 2007
Paul Rerdon – 2008
Clark McHenry (deceased) – 2009
Marlene Knopp – 2010
Paul Lupa – 2011
George Hoffman – 2012
James Sullivan – 2013.
John Canale – 2014
Len Maniccia – 2015
Tom Galloway – 2016