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Guest Column: State Sen. Tom O'Mara
"In memory of veterans"
ALBANY, May 28 -- American citizens throughout this great land of ours gather on Memorial Day to remember our veterans, past and present. It’s a time to celebrate our nation’s past, to honor her present, and to look forward to her future. Let’s hope it will always be so.
Many of us locally will be gathering in cemeteries across the region, cemeteries large and small in Bath, Elmira, Hammondsport, Pine Valley, Millport, Breesport and Erin, to name just a few. There’ll be a ceremony at the Naval Monument in Watkins Glen, the Schuyler County Veterans Park, and other veterans’ monuments and memorials throughout the region. Area residents will gather throughout the day at American Legions and VFWs in Corning, Horseheads, Dundee, Penn Yan and elsewhere.
We come together at volunteer fire departments, churches, city parks and so many other places to celebrate our most meaningful and important observance. We can be proud that New York State is recognized as the “Birthplace of Memorial Day,” which our nation has now observed for over a century, since the time of the Civil War. It’s a time to reflect on the greatness of a nation built on the sacrifices of her soldiers, soldiers who still today serve the underlying dreams of our homeland: freedom and peace, compassion and decency, and democracy.
It is always a great privilege to carry on the essential observance of Memorial Day. It’s essential to pay tribute to those left behind in Germany and on the beaches of Normandy, Iwo Jima, the hills of Korea, the jungles of Vietnam, the sands of the Middle East, and the mountains of Afghanistan. We must especially remember and salute the men and women who serve in harm’s way this very moment to keep America strong and the world safer in the war against terror. They remain shining examples of the bravery, courage, and honor on which the American way of life has survived.
In remembering, we reaffirm our pride in this nation's servicemen and servicewomen and, of course, we turn our thoughts and prayers to those young soldiers whom we've lost from here at home in the recent past – including Devin Snyder of Cohocton, Zachary Smith of Hornell, Christopher Scott of Dundee and Christopher Bordoni of Ithaca.
On June 6, 1984, in remarks commemorating the 40th Anniversary of D-Day, President Ronald Reagan said, “We will always remember. We will always be proud. We will always be prepared, so we may always be free.”
So we remember our soldiers on Memorial Day. As well, we must remember and salute the millions of veterans living in New York State, and all of the many millions across our nation. They have earned our gratitude. Late last week I was proud to honor one of these local veterans, Chemung County Historian J. Arthur “Archie” Kieffer, a World War II combat veteran, by inducting him into the State Senate Veterans Hall of Fame. Archie joins nearly 200 state veterans who’ve joined the Hall since 2005, including the following area veterans: William Kastner of Steuben County, who was inducted in 2005; Frank C. “Fritz” Pesesky, Chemung County (2005); Robert J. Laskaris, Chemung County (2008); and, last year, Philip J. Smith of Schuyler County [view the Hall of Fame and read the inspiring stories of so many New York State veterans on my Senate website, www.omara.nysenate.gov].
Because of these veterans, we can look into the eyes of our young people this Memorial Day, the faces of the future, and have faith that they, too, will be instilled with the spirit to keep America great. To keep believing that the American way is a good, decent, worthwhile way.
In the end, perhaps this is the greatest justice for all of the missions flown, for all of the foxholes dug, for the hills taken and the battles fought. Our soldiers -- American soldiers -- have made and continue to make the ultimate sacrifice to keep America free, so that she can lead the way to a more free world. Our soldiers sacrifice to keep alive America’s promise, so that people throughout the world can look to her for inspiration. Our soldiers sacrifice to keep America strong, so that other nations can draw courage from her strength.
For as long as we remember and keep our soldiers alive in our hearts, we will stand as we do -- free in a land of opportunity and promise.
To read more on the history of New York as the “Birthplace of Memorial Day, visit New York’s Hall of Governor’s website at http://www.hallofgovernors.ny.gov/generic/memorialdayexhibit
Photo in text: State Senator Tom O'Mara
Schuyler County Officials
Top row (from left): Dennis Fagan, Thomas Gifford, Doris Karius, Glenn Larison
Bottom row: Michael A. Yuhasz, Barbara Halpin, Phil Barnes, Stewart Field
Dennis Fagan, Tyrone 607-292-3687
Michael A. Yuhasz, 535-4967
Doris L. Karius, 546-5544
Barbara Halpin, 594-3683
Glenn R. Larison, 594-3385
Thomas M. Gifford, 535-9517
Phil Barnes, Watkins Glen 481-0482
Stewart Field, Watkins Glen 535-2335
County Clerk: Linda Compton, 535-8133
Sheriff: William Yessman, 535-8222
Undersheriff: Breck Spaulding, 535-8222
County Treasurer: Margaret Starbuck, 535-8181
District Attorney: Joseph Fazzary, 535-8383
State, Federal Officials for Schuyler County
Sen. Charles E. Schumer
United States Senate
Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand
United States Senate
State Senator Tom O'Mara -- Chemung, Schuyler, Steuben, Yates, western Tompkins, Enfield, Ithaca (Town and City), Newfield, Ulysses(Trumansburg)
Room 812, Legislative Office Building
Assemblyman Christopher Friend --
Chemung, Schuyler, Tioga
P.O. Box 365
Odessa, New York 14869