By Mark Reynolds
All U.S. Veterans are honored on Veterans Day, which takes place at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month and commemorates the signing of the Armistice with Germany in 1918 that ended WW I. It was officially signed at 5:45 a.m. on that day by Allied Supreme Commander Ferdinand Foch in his railway car in the forest of Compiegne in northern France. It called for the cessation of fighting on land, sea and in the air, however, fighting continued until 11am (CET) on November 11, with 2,738 men killed in action on the very last day of the war.
Last week the Town of Marlborough remembered and honored all Veterans. Joseph Freeborn served in Vietnam in 1971-72 and this year he moderated a ceremony that was held at the war memorials by the Middle School. He said the day was meant, “to reflect on the service and sacrifices of all our Veterans.”
Veteran Carl Fred’s laying of the wreath before the memorials was followed by the Color Guard advancing of the American Flag and the Flag of the local Viebey-Sutton American Legion Post 124.
The Marlboro High School Choir sang the Star Spangled Banner.
Freeborn said there are about 19 million veterans who are alive today and millions more who preceded them since the American Revolution.
“Veterans are a diverse group represented by many men and women of every economic, ethnic and religious background. They come from every state and territory but are bound by one common commitment, to defend America with their lives when called upon to do so,” he said. “From fighting terrorism to defeating fascism and liberating slaves Veterans have a record of remarkable accomplishments throughout our nations history.”
Freeborn pointed out that often Veterans, “had to endure long separations from their families, missing the births of their children, freezing in sub-zero temperatures, sweating in the deserts of the Middle East or the jungles of Vietnam, sacrificing their health and far too often their lives.” He urged all Americans to make sure surviving Veterans, “have access to high quality health care and benefits with the recognition and thanks of a great nation.”
Freeborn ended with a quote by Gen. Douglas MacArthur [1880-1964], “The soldier above all others prays for peace, for it is the soldier who must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war.”
Supervisor Scott Corcoran addressed the audience.
“We stand here today to honor all who have served and those that continue to serve our country. It is important today to remember the sacrifices they have made defending our country and our way of life. We honor their achievements, their dedication and their sacrifice so that we all can live our lives with the freedoms that our great country has to offer. Our debt to our Veterans can never be repaid but our gratitude and respect must last forever.”
Ulster County Legislator Tom Corcoran said the county legislature, on a bipartisan basis, approved $3 million, “to expand our Veterans cemetery in New Paltz so all our veterans will have a place to lay in eternity at no cost.”
Corcoran said Veterans Day is a, “universally recognized day of celebration to honor all veterans who unselfishly placed their lives on the line for our freedom. They have kept our country and our citizens safe and free and we can offer to them no better tribute than to protect what they have won for us, that is our duty. They have never let America down and we will not let them down.”
Student Zachary Dina said Veterans, “have dedicated their lives to our country and they deserve to be recognized for their unwavering commitment. These sacrifices by our Veterans must always be remembered, not just today, but every day. Our Veterans are all dear to me and have given their lives to something that is bigger than oneself. I am incredibly grateful for your sacrifice and honor you on this Veterans Day.”
This was followed by the playing of Taps by Kaylee Dina.
Freeborn had all Veterans present in the audience come forward to form a half circle as Boy Scouts from Troop 72 handed them notes of appreciation and thanks that were made by elementary school students.
“It’s really great to see that our school community is encouraging children to learn about patriotism and the sacrifice of our Veterans, who are the defenders of our great country,” Freeborn said.
Eric Simmons served in the Marine Corps from 1997 to 2010; three combat tours in Iraq and multiple other non-combat deployments. He thanked the older Veterans in attendance, “because you guys paved the way for men and women like me and from one veteran to another, thank you.”
Simmons said it took him three hours to read all of the cards that he received from the children.
“On this Veterans Day, this Veteran would like to thank all of you parents and grandparents for raising these children to keep this going. Veterans Day should not just be for today, but you children and parents are keeping it going and without you, our Vets have nothing. Keep it up and thank you.”
After the ceremony, the Ladies Auxiliary prepared lunch free of charge at the Marlboro American Legion Hall.