A legislative Column by Assemblyman Will Barclay
With all the challenges that we face in our daily lives, it easily can be overlooked how lucky we are to live in the United States.
Our form of government, the structure of which is set forth in the U.S. Constitution, is surely an integral part of our greatness. It is undeniable too that the people who make up this country make us, as Ronald Reagan famously said, “the shining city on the hill.”
One can see this greatness every day.
We are giving.
Americans in massive numbers volunteer to help their communities, regardless of their wealth or personal need.
We are tolerant.
The country is incredibly diverse in terms of religion, geography, political viewpoints, and ethnic backgrounds.
Yet, where else in the world does such a diverse citizenry coexist in such a peaceful manner.
We are forgiving.
While we, as a country, have been involved in many conflicts around the world, in almost all cases we have forgiven our former enemies, we have become allies with many, and have even welcomed their citizens to our country.
Some of the best traits in Americans can be seen when we recognize those who have given so much to our country.
That is, of course, our veterans.
This week we celebrate Veterans Day.
Veterans Day, originally called Armistice Day, marked the end of World War I.
It was a day set aside to recognize our victory and honor the veterans who died in the war.
Following World War II and the Korean War, President Eisenhower dedicated Armistice Day as a day to remember all veterans, and Armistice Day became known as Veterans Day.
While Veterans Day is a formal holiday, Americans don’t limit their recognition to one or two days a year.
We do it often because we realize how fortunate we are that so many have been willing to defend our country, often at great sacrifice.
Earlier this fall, I was honored to attend a ceremony at Hancock Airport to welcome back veterans who took part in this year’s Honor Flight to Washington D.C.
Honor Flight is a national program that flies veterans, free of charge, to Washington D.C. to visit national memorials that honor their service and sacrifice.
It was a moving ceremony, not only because it is a great program run by dedicated volunteers, but also because of the huge number of people who turned out to thank the veterans who participated.
To me, that illustrates what makes America great.
In addition to Honor Flight, we have other programs and organizations that assist and thank veterans.
One locally established organization is Clear Path for Veterans which began in 2011.
The mission of Clear Path for Veterans is to be a resource center that partners with local businesses and organizations to connect veterans and their families to resources they need.
They also manage a successful Dog2Vets program which pairs veterans with dogs from local animal shelters.
Another organization that has been active locally is the Wounded Warrior Project which, among other things, works to raise awareness for the needs of injured service men.
These organizations, and the people who run them, are also what makes America great.
I am proud to be an American.
Our country is great because of the people who make up the United States, foremost our veterans.
Please remember to thank a veteran not only on Veterans Day but every day.
If you have any questions or comments or if you would like to be added to my mailing list or receive my newsletter, please contact my office by mail at 200 N. Second St., Fulton, NY 13069, by e-mail at [email protected] or by calling (315) 598-5185.