FULTON, NY – Honoring local veterans and their years of service to the country, Assemblyman Will Barclay (R,C,I-Pulaski) presented state Military Service Awards to nearly three dozen veterans Thursday evening at the Fulton War Memorial.
“To be able to present these prestigious awards to local veterans is an honor in and of itself,” Barclay said. “I cannot know all of what each of these men and women endured or experienced in serving their country but I am grateful for their sacrifice.”
Barclay noted that as Memorial Day approaches, it is especially important to take time out to thank the country’s heroes. (See gallery below)
“Any nation that does not honor their heroes will not long endure.” Barclay said, quoting Abraham Lincoln.
Major Robert Griggs of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team at Fort Drum, who served as keynote speaker for the event, thanked those who attended the event for taking the time to honor the sons and daughters of the state who have served their country.
Griggs noted that through the years, Memorial Day has become a day off for many, rather than a day that is held true to its original purpose.
“The true purpose (of Memorial Day) has been lost,” Griggs noted.
Going through the history of Memorial Day, which is also known as Decoration Day, Griggs explained that the day started originally as a day to decorate the graves of fallen soldiers. He noted that it is believed to have originated in Waterloo and was marked as a national holiday in 1971.
Griggs encouraged those present to pause on Memorial Day to think about what the day means and what it should mean to them personally. Explaining his own experiences of losing fellow servicemen, Griggs said he takes time to honor their memory each year.
“The vast majority of American have not felt that pain,” Griggs said. “I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.”
Rather than dwell on the sorrow of fallen comrades, Griggs said it is important to recognize their patriotism and celebrate what they stood for.
“If I have learned anything during my 19 years… it is that true heroism happens in our ranks every day,” he said. The majority of that heroism is rarely recognized or honored, he noted.
Not just on Memorial Day, Griggs said that the patriotism of the soldiers who serve the country should be celebrated every day.
“I am proud to be a soldier but I am more proud to have served with them,” Griggs added.
Following his remarks, Assemblymen Dave Townsend and Bob Oaks joined Barclay in presenting the list of honorees with the state Conspicuous Service Cross, the state Conspicuous Service Star and the Medal for Merit.
Service Medal Recipients honored during the event included:
- Sam Ambrosetti of Oswego – Medal for Merit
- Alan S. Barnes of Fulton – Medal for Merit and Conspicuous Service Star
- James S. Blackburn of Fulton, Medal for Merit
- Leroy L. Bowen Jr. of Pulaski – Medal for Merit
- Richard M. Butera of Baldwinsville – Medal for Merit
- Charles L. Butler of Hannibal – Medal for Merit
- Thomas Cavallaro of Liverpool – Medal for Merit
- Joel C. Charlebois of Pulaski – Conspicuous Service Cross
- Freeman Cole of Pulaski – Conspicuous Service Cross
- Richard A. Cushing of Pulaski – Medal for Merit
- Carl E. Dickinson of Oswego – Conspicuous Service Cross and Star
- William M. Dubois of Phoenix – Conspicuous Service Cross and Star
- Ralph Phillip Fontana of Oswego – Medal for Merit
- John R. Fultz of Oswego – Medal for Merit
- Brenda A. Hewitt of Black River – Conspicuous Service Cross
- Jeffords V. Hewitt of Black River – Conspicuous Service Cross and Star
- Edward F. Kelley Jr., of Pulaski – Medal for Merit
- Bruce R. Lewchanin of Hannibal – Medal for Merit
- Theodore M. Link of Mexico – Medal for Merit and Conspicuous Service Star
- John M. Manasseri of Oswego – Medal for Merit and Conspicuous Service Star
- Gerald E. Martin of Oswego – Conspicuous Service Star
- Michael D. McCarthy of Liverpool – Conspicuous Service Cross
- William J. McCarthy of Oswego – Medal for Merit and Conspicuous Service Star
- Joseph C. Miller of Radcliff, KY – Conspicuous Service Cross
- Geroge M. Mills of Pennellville – Medal for Merit and Conspicuous Service Star
- Sean P. O’Brien of Pulaski – Conspicuous Service Star and Cross
- Eugene F. Patterson of Mexico – Medal for Merit
- Albert G. Rodriguez III of Pulaski – Medal for Merit
- William L. Russo of Oswego – Medal for Merit and Conspicuous Service Star
- Ronald E. Sakonyi of Constantia – Conspicuous Service Cross and Star
- Frederick Thurston of Oswego – Medal for Merit
- James M. Vulcan of Baldwinsville – Medal for Merit
- Clarence T. Watters of Pulaski – Medal for Merit
- Paul M. Wood of Pulaski – Medal for Merit
- Clinton A. Woolson Jr., of Pulaski – Medal for Merit
Other honored guests at the event included Fulton Mayor Ron Woodward, Third Ward Fulton Common Councilor Robert Weston, Oswego County Veterans Services Director Donna Kestner and legislators Morris Sorbello, Louella LeClair, Kimberly Seager, John Proud, Arthur Gearsbeck and Milferd Potter.
The invocation and benediction were offered by State Chaplin Allen Ferry of the New York National Guard. The G. Ray Bodley brass quintet performed for the ceremony under the direction of Terry Caviness.
“I think this is wonderful and I thank Assemblyman Barclay and everyone for putting it together,” Fulton Mayor Ron Woodward said. “It is a true tribute to our veterans.”
Woodward noted that the city will host a Memorial Day service at 11 a.m., Monday at the veterans monument across from city hall on South First Street. A reception with refreshments will begin at 10 a.m. at city hall. Both the reception and the ceremony are open to the public.