By Assemblyman Will Barclay
November 11 is Veterans’ Day.
The day was originally known as Armistice Day because it marked the end of hostilities of World War I – supposedly the war to end all wars.
However, in 1954 after World War II and the Korean War, Congress, at the urging of veterans’ organizations, passed legislation to change Armistice Day to Veterans’ Day.
It was envisioned that this day would be a day to honor America’s veterans for their love of country and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.
Perhaps no bigger illustration of the sacrifice that soldiers have made for our country was displayed last week when the remains of U.S. Army Corporal Joseph Trepasso were returned to the city of Fulton, Cpl. Trepasso’s hometown.
Cpl. Trepasso was killed during the Korean War when he was only 20 years old.
In November 1950, Cpl. Trepasso was a member of Company L, 3rd Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division serving in what is now North Korea, when his regiment was attacked by the Chinese People’s Volunteer Forces.
This attack forced the unit to withdraw south at which time many U.S. soldiers were surrounded and either killed or captured.
During this time, Trepasso’s name did not appear on any POW list provided by the Chinese People’s Volunteer Forces or the Korean People’s Army.
In 1951, the U.S. Army received notice that Trepasso was killed in action on December 1, 1950.
It wasn’t until September 2001, when a U.S. and Korean People’s Army recovery team working at a location in the vicinity where Cpl. Trepasso’s unit was attacked recovered material evidence and possible human remains of at least seven individuals.
In September 2013, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency reported that lab analysis, in conjunction with the totality of circumstantial evidence available, established that Cpl. Trepasso’s remains were part of the September 2001 findings.
Three years after Cpl. Trepasso’s remains were identified and 66 years after Cpl. Trepasso was killed in action he has now returned home.
Hundreds of community members lined the streets in the city of Fulton and the village of Phoenix to watch and pay tribute to the procession which carried Cpl. Trepasso’s remains to the funeral home in the city of Fulton.
The procession, that included a military escort, was led by the Patriot Guard which consisted of more than 30 motorcyclists carrying American flags.
The procession also included a police escort and several other vehicles driven by family and close friends.
It was a beautiful tribute honoring a young man who paid the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our country.
It is my hope that by bringing Cpl. Trepasso home his family has closure and peace.
For the community, it gave all who were present an opportunity to honor a young soldier who died for his country and to say thank you through a moment of silence.
It also served as a reminder of the many others who have given so bravely to their country.
Many communities are preparing to honor veterans at different civic events, church functions, or schools.
These important events allow the community to say thank you to veterans, both young and old and those who have passed, who sacrificed so much for our great country.
May we never forget their sacrifices and remember, thank and honor all veterans for their selfless acts of heroism and bravery each and 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.