OSWEGO, NY – Once again, the Port City paused 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 morning visiting various parks and cemeteries paying tribute to our nation’s veterans.
A few onlookers lined the abbreviated parade route. A large crowd, many decked out in red, white and blue, ringed Veterans’ Memorial Park under the clear skies with mild temperatures greeted the group as it marched into the park.
The Snowbelters opened the ceremony by singing The Star Spangled Banner
Memorial Day is sacred to all veterans and families of veterans, according to George Hoffman, the master of ceremonies.
He was joined on stage by Sixth Ward Councilor Eric VanBuren (representing Mayor Tom Gillen and the city), Holly Carpenter (from Senator Patty Patty Ritchie’s office) and Oswego Tourism Director Fred Crisafulli.
“Today is the unofficial first day of the summer season. However, let’s not forget who gave us these times of pleasure and enjoyment. This day is in memory of those who made the supreme sacrifice, laying down their lives so you and I and our families have the opportunity to enjoy the freedoms that we have today,” Hoffman told the crowd assembled in the park. “Memorial Day is a time to reflect on (veterans’) service and sacrifice; even as our armed forces are performing difficult and dangerous missions in distant lands.”
It is a time to remember the sacrifice of those who have gone before us and also to remind those who have been touched by the pain of war that the lives they mourn were not offered in vain,” he added.
He told everyone to pass along the reason the veterans died so those who never knew them would understand the reason for observances such as Memorial Day.
“We owe it to our fallen heroes to pause from our routine so that we may respectfully honor their lives and sacrifices for liberty and freedom. One day, just one day to remember the sacrifice of those who have gone before us,” he said. “Except for their service, we all would be facing different circumstances today. During World War II, American forces literally helped save the world from tyranny and oppression.”
“Our defenders are ordinary Americans performing extraordinary deeds,” he added.
According to Hoffman, the military is lowest paying job in the world. They are on duty call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, he said.
“When you break that down (on average) it amounts to 36.7 cents per hour. So you can see, they don’t do it for the money,” he said.
Councilor VanBuren said his grandfather and his great-uncle served during World War II.
“It’s one thing to learn about these events in school. But, it’s another entirely to hear them from the people who served during these events that shaped our nation,” he said. “I’m honored to represent the city today and say ‘thank you’ to all the men and women who have served and are currently serving our country.”
Memorial Day is a time to remember our veterans, Sen. Ritchie said.
“I would like to thank everyone for coming out today to honor our fallen veterans. It is also important to thank the veterans and their families who have come out to join us in celebrating Memorial Day,” Carpenter said reading from the senator’s letter.”
Veterans “are truly our nation’s heroes,” she continued. “Their service and sacrifice continue to inspire us. It is important not only today but every day to recognize these men and women.”
“Today, across the country, we reflect on the true meaning of Memorial Day and thank the brave men and women of our armed forces who have given their lives for our great country. They are our real heroes,” Assemblyman Will Barclay said in a letter read by Hoffman.
“We must honor their courage by remembering that freedom demands much of all of us. We must be engaged citizens and never forget those who have fallen. They gave their lives so that America would remain free,” he continued.
Hoffman asked the crowd if anyone knew what was the biggest pay a member of the military could receive.
“Do me one favor this Memorial Day,” he explained. “Pay tribute to those who gave all. And, if you encounter a living veteran today or other military person – 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
Earlier in the day, veterans representing several organizations were out visiting cemeteries and parks around the area in honor of their fallen comrades.