Tag Archive | "Memorial Day"

Local Heroes

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Every year, as the Memorial Day parade marches by our office, we’re struck by the fading number of World War II veterans among the ranks. It never fails to produce a lump in our throats. The strong men and women of our parents’ generation who we remember seeing just yesterday on the streets of Sag Harbor are stooped a bit more, marching a little slower with each passing year, or riding in convertibles because they can no longer walk the route. And each year, there are more of Sag Harbor’s soldiers missing as roughly 1,000 W.W.II veterans die every day across the country.

As this generation recedes into history, we also see a loss of innocence in the way in which this nation has long understood war and its warriors. Notions of right vs. wrong and good vs. evil are continually blurred on the new battlefield. The idea that you once could identify an enemy by the uniform he wore or the border he crossed seems almost old-fashioned by today’s military standards.

The complications of modern warfare make it extremely difficult to view conflicts in the simple terms that defined the big wars of the early 20th century. In both Afghanistan and Iraq, tribal loyalties, roadside bombs, indefinable borders and a shifting suicidal enemy who operates in disguise amongst civilians or even within our own ranks has redefined and complicated the battlefield.

But this is the nature of warfare in the 21st century. And we need to remember that its by-products are being heaped upon a new generation of veterans who are coming back from the wars with terrible physical injuries or post traumatic stress disorder on a scale we’ve never witnessed before. It’s a new kind of warfare and one we don’t completely yet understand. So some might find it’s easier just to tune out, sitting, as we are, thousands of miles away from the action.

But we can’t afford to tune out this country’s newest veterans and those servicemen and women who are still deeply involved in these conflicts overseas. And we certainly can’t tune out those who have given their lives. War weary though we may be, it’s important that Memorial Day continue to be about more than burgers on the grill and an extra day off. And here’s why — as of Tuesday, the Department of Defense has identified 4,390 American service members who have died since the start of the Iraq war and 1,069 who have died as a part of the Afghan war and related operations. So on Monday, let’s all remind veterans and the families of those who never came home that even if theirs is a war we don’t fully understand, their sacrifice is something we surely do.

Memorial Day Sag Harbor 2009

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Celebrating Memorial Day in Sag Harbor

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By Andrew Rudansky

The air remained uncharacteristically still at Marine Park this Monday as several hundred people converged around the World War II monument in silence. 

The Memorial Day Parade procession that strode down Main Street and made its way down Bay Street had arrived at the park for the final ceremony. In past years the parade usually terminates in front of the American Legion headquarters on Bay Street, however this year the route was cut short, ending instead on the more spacious and picturesque grounds of Marine Park.

That wasn’t the only change to the Memorial Day Parade this year, a fourth stop was added to the parade route at the recently renamed Lance Corporal Jordan C. Haerter Veterans Memorial Bridge. 

At the bridge, wreaths were placed near the obelisk memorial of Lance Corporal Jordan C. Haerter where the firing squad offered a salute.

Local veteran Bruce Winchell said of the parade, “we try to touch all basis, I think we did pretty much our jobs today…it came out quite well.”

 

Veterans from five wars and several different conflicts stood and sat solemnly as the procession of speeches was given under a massive flag flying at half mast. 

Each veteran was dressed in his or her own military uniforms creating a patchwork of white, blue, green and black garb. The Sag Harbor Volunteer Fire Fighters showed up in force all sporting their sharp blue uniforms.

One veteran said, “It was very inspiring, brought me back to the days when I was in Vietnam, to see all the veterans standing around, it was very, very heart throbbing.”

Other community organizations that showed up to honor the veterans included the local Boy and Girl Scout troops, the Pierson school band and several local politicians.   

Gold Star mothers JoAnn Lyles, mother of Lance Corporal Jordan Haerter, and Nicolasa Arevalo, mother of SPC Orlando A. Perez, sat somberly in the front row for the ceremony. Arevalo cradled a framed picture of her son in her arms. The two Gold Star Mothers were mentioned several times throughout the speeches that lasted a little more than an hour.  

Orators extolled the volunteer emergency organizations, the veterans in attendance and the brave men and women who lost their lives serving their country.

A roll call of the recently deceased was read aloud, a short prayer led by the American Legion Chaplain followed this.

The Chaplain asked the people in attendance to, “honor the memories of those brave soldiers, sailors, marines, marine merchants, airmen who gave us the supreme sacrifice, so we may experience freedom in a country that is free.”

One of the speakers this Memorial Day reminded the crowd that today was not just a day for veterans, “There are five other young men from Sag Harbor serving in the armed forces at this time.”

After the speeches ended and the service was over the throngs of spectators and parade participants filtered out of the park and into the 70-degree heat of the day.

Winchell wanted to emphasize that the day is meant to honor the departed, “it’s not a veterans day, today is the day for the men who gave their lives.”

 

 

 

George Boziwick

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The World War II Navy man and this year’s Memorial Day guest speaker, on the work of veterans organizations, the meaning of the day and remembering our veterans.

A little background. When and where did you serve during World War II?

I joined the Navy in 1940 and went to radio school in Noroton, Connecticut. I served in Panama with the Navy from July 1941 to December 1944, and then came back to the states and served as a radio technician at NAMU Johnsville, Penn. I was discharged in September 1945. I was at Naval Air Station Cocosolo in the canal zone where I was an Aviation Radio Technician 1st Class, in charge of communications, on the base itself, and taking care of aircraft coming in.

 

What will you be speaking about on Monday?

I’ll be speaking about Memorial Day, just about Memorial Day. Its beginnings and what we’re supposed to be doing.

 

Memorial Day recognizes the sacrifices — especially the ultimate sacrifice — made by our service men and women. What should Memorial Day mean to the people you will be speaking to?

It’s a day of memory and  mourning. We should be visiting the graves of not only the heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice, but also all those who served during the war periods.

 

You were involved last year in helping to get the new plaque that lists all the Sag Harbor veterans from World War II for the memorial at Marine Park. How important was that for you to accomplish?

It was most important that all these people be recognized because of their desire to serve their country. It took us about a year-and-a-half to get all 446 names for the plaque.

 

Every year there are fewer World War II veterans with us.

That’s for sure.

 

What’s the best way to keep the memory of their contributions alive?

Pray for them, visit their graves.

 

How have you seen the nature of conflicts change since the time you served?

I think they’ve changed more technically than anything else. World War II was the infancy of radar and LORAN. Today we’ve got guided missiles, and unmanned, drone aircraft.

 

The ceremony on Memorial Day is sponsored by the Sag Harbor Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion. How can our military service organizations best serve their membership?

We do serve our members if they become ill, or needy. And, speaking for the Legion, we do a great deal with donations and scholarships. We sponsor six scholarships at Pierson every year at graduation, totaling 14,500. Of course we donate to the food pantry and other organizations like the Wounded Warrior Project and the Cub Scouts. This year we’ll be sponsoring two boys to Boy’s State.

 

What does Memorial Day mean to you?

It means a day of remembering the guys and girls of Sag Harbor who served in WW II.