Veteran’s Day Speech
November 11, 2010
Hello all. I’d like to thank the Veterans Commission for their generous invitation to participate in today’s Veteran’s Day Parade and Memorial Ceremony. I’d also like to thank the Honor Guard, members of our various veteran organizations and the many, many veterans, past and present, that have served in the military with devotion and courage. I am humbled to stand with you, both men and women that have been willing to sacrifice so much for this community and our Country. Indeed, it is only too recently that this area had lost a young man, Private First Class David R. Jones, Jr. of St. Johnsville. This soldier was only 21 years old when he gave his life in Iraq. His death is a reminder that the tragic consequences of conflict do not end; our region is still making unimaginably painful sacrifice in the name of freedom.
In thinking about today’s speech, my mind continually returned to the word, honor, and it’s various usages: “honor the father and thy mother”, “honored to know you”, “serve with honor”. No higher goal or compliment exists in our language, if you think about it. The men and women of our military have served with dedication, commitment and integrity. They have served selflessly and with 100% focus on duty. They have put their complete faith in their superiors, their mission and our Country.
They served, and serve, with honor.
In contemplating today’s importance, I also thought about the veterans I know that have been forever touched by their time in the military… my father-in-law, his kind and weathered face, so affected by his experience in the Second World War that, to this day, he speaks of little else over 60 years later.
I think of Al Kercado, my friend and our own home town hero, having served two tours in the Middle East, and now serving with great pride at the Pentagon. Anyone that knows Al certainly loves him, but we love him because he is a living, breathing illustration of honor, as his personal aspiration to be true and loyal supercedes all else.
I think of the of Leon Pratt and members of Chapter 8 of the New York Nomads Veterans Motorcycle club that work tirelessly to raise funds to not only sustain the Albany Housing Coalition for homeless vets, but to support the Leatherstocking Honor Flight Network. This group has made possible trips to the WWII memorial in Washington for our surviving WWII vets, an experience that is deeply moving and important for these individuals and their families at the close of their lives.
This extraordinary effort is made in the spirit of brotherhood and honor. It is a call to each of us to follow in these steps.
While ribbons, pins and flags are symbolic of our unified appreciation for our nation’s heroes, (and I am honored to be able to recognize some of our veterans here today with a new medal), we must choose to actively participate in helping our veterans – we are called on to donate essential resources and volunteer time to local charities that are supportive of veteran’s causes and their families. Our government must adequately supply much needed services to those that have returned from service, sometimes broken physically, and sometimes spiritually as well. Lastly, let us all offer on a daily basis a silent prayer or in a way that is as small as a handshake or a smile of thanks the recognition of all that our military members do for us.
In parting, I want to again express my appreciation on behalf of our city to the Veteran’s Commission for your endless commitment to our nation’s heroes and your work to represent and protect our city’s veterans. I ask all that are gathered here today also to contribute to the new memorial that will be constructed at Veterans Field in recognition of the honor of every man and woman hailing from the City of Amsterdam that has served in our armed forces. Please call Richard Leggiero (843-0808) for more information.
God Bless us all, but especially, God bless our veterans. Thank you.
Today, if you can, please take a moment to offer your gratitude to the families of the veterans and active service members by going online to serve.gov to find out how you can serve military families in your area. Please check out the RESOURCES sections for tools you may put into action.
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