People lined the street and podium at New Rochelle’s Memorial Plaza yesterday, gathering to recognize and appreciate Veterans Day 2012. This year Commemorates the 50th year Anniversary of America’s involvement in the Vietnam War. At 11:11am on the 11th day of the 11th Month, a Wreath was to be placed on a monument under our American Flag to Memorialize those who served and made the most noble sacrifices and to recognize those who’s boots hit the soil every day to protect our freedoms today. President of the United Veterans Memorial and Patriotic Association, Peter Parente impressively stated “ It is not a Politician that gives you freedom of speech, freedom of religion, or the rights to bear arms, it’s the Veteran that secures our freedom, not the Politician.”
The Veterans Day ceremony opened with a dignified and humble invocation and benediction from WWII Veteran and UVMPA Chaplain, William Moye. 97year old William Moye has been a lifelong resident of New Rochelle and a veteran for most of his life, he’s an active part of his community and a tride and true American patriot. Director of the New Rochelle High School Symphonic Band Mark Cooper, lead proudly while his talented students beautifully performed our National Anthem for all who attended the ceremony, filling the air with a profound sense of patriotism. Mark Cooper who currently works diligently with his young musicians, has replaced former NRHS Band Director Robert Freeberg. At the podium, USMC combat veteran Peter Parente addressed the crowd speaking with conviction about Veterans and their role in society, about what they do for us as a free nation and what Veterans Day represents. Under the obvious poor publicity of the New Rochelle Veterans Day event on behalf of the City, council member Lou Trangucci was the only Council member who made the effort to attend the ceremony at the plaza along with City Manager Chuck Strome, County Legislator Jim Maisano and Mayor Noam Bramson. Mayor Bramson offered a few words acknowledging Veterans and their work within the community and country and touched more so on the after effects that Hurricane Sandy had on the residents of New Rochelle and their struggle to live without amenities like power and heat or hot water and dealing with extensive damage and recovery efforts that this storm brought to the City.
Former NYS Assemblyman and NYS Commissioner of Veterans Affairs Ron Tocci spoke about our Veterans' dedication to defending our country and unparalleled work being the benchmark for what we all call freedom. Ron was quoted saying “From Valley Forge until now, our men and women in uniform have earned the right to be listened to and respected. Each and every one of them deserves recognition. These are the people who as they change from their uniforms to civilian clothes, are the ones who change our communities for the better. These are the people we should be showing the utmost loyalty and honor to.” Our Veterans muster up every last drop of hard labor, effort and pain for us. Veterans Day is a time when our cities and communities should take more time out to acknowledge and appreciate the level of commitments that our armed forces continue to make to keep our great Nation free. Veterans have suffered and have been tortured fighting for liberty and justice for all, and it is done with selflessness and love for country. Our American military and our patriotism is the foundation for which this great land lies upon.
Commander of American Legion Post 8 Jim Lasser along with the Veterans present at the Memorial Plaza ceremony Renewed their Oaths of Enlistment. The Oath renewed their vow to be of service to defend and protect the Constitution of The United States of America of all enemies foreign and domestic. Shortly following their Oath of Service, Peter Parente on behalf of the UVMPA handed out beautifully designed award statues to all the major contributors that make the Memorial Day events in our city possible. Recognition and sincere appreciation of their support went to New Rochelle Chevrolet, AJ Burgers, Pronto Pizza, Sound Shore Medical Center, NRPD, NRFD, Monroe College, Beach Bar, New Rochelle TV, New Rochelle Parks & Rec, Stop & Shop and Shop Rite. All of the recipients were clearly made aware of how much their contributions of time, funding and effort made Memorial Day in New Rochelle an Event for thousands to enjoy and remember.
In a gesture to always remember to pay tribute to those who fought before us, a wreath was honorably placed by Veterans Ron Tocci and Jim Lasser on the memorial representing the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War followed by a moment of silence to honor our departed veterans. A salute to the dead was presented by the firing detail with the American Legion Post 8 where stark silence and gun smoke met and the sound of a single trumpet played by Saul Backer was all to be heard singing the sobering sound of taps.
In closing of the Veterans Day Ceremony, Peter Parente stepped to the microphone and made his last poignant remarks regarding Veterans and what theme of Veterans day is about. “ We in New Rochelle lived without power and simple luxuries for 10 days. Our troops have NO power in the deserts of Afghanistan and Iraq for months at a time. They have sand in their eyes and in their teeth and in their ears, and they don’t complain. Just try to keep that in mind when you suffer through experiences that disrupt your whole world – think about what our troops go through every day, where minutes are an eternity. Remember that every grueling moment that passes by for our active duty military,… is for us”
Please don’t wait until Veterans Day to say Thank You to a Veteran, say it all year long. They don’t decide to protect us on one day and not the next.
Photo credit Jen Parente