Story by Shelley R. Clapper
The Arthur Finnegan American Legion Hall Post 1443 in Greenwood Lake was filled to capacity on Sat., Nov. 11 for the annual Greenwood Lake Veteran’s Day service. Village of Greenwood Lake Mayor Jesse Dwyer and Town Councilman Floyd DeAngelo, Sons of the Legion, the Ladies Auxiliary, and members of the community attended the service.
The ceremony began with a prayer led by Fr. Bob Sweeney. After the Pledge of Allegiance and the National Anthem, Fr. Sweeney brought attention to a small empty table situated near the podium. The table is a tribute to those missing in action and to Prisoners of War.
“The white table cloth symbolizes the purity of intention to respond to their country’s call to arms. The single red rose in the vase signifies the blood that may have been shed in sacrifice to ensure the freedom of our beloved United States of America. A slice of lemon on the plate reminds us of their bitter fate. The glass is inverted. They cannot toast with us at this time. The chair is empty. They are not here. Let us remember and never forget their sacrifice,” said Fr. Sweeney.
Gerald Brewer, the Commander of the American Legion, spoke about his experiences when he got out of the Marines in 1968.
“In those days veterans were not treated very well. It took just meeting one person to thank me for my service and it changed the way I felt. It made me feel so much better to be appreciated. Please just know how much one small gesture and a thank you can do for someone,” said Brewer.
Councilman Floyd DeAngelo said, “We should be reminded of the tremendous courage of the veterans and the debt we owe them for ensuring our freedom, security and for the greatest nation on earth.”
Mayor Dwyer said that Veterans Day is an important day to share with others. He said that about 25 veterans shared their stories with students at an event at the G.L. Elementary School. Dwyer said that although he does not personally have the honor of being a Veteran he does have many members of his family who have served their Country. Both of his grandfathers fought in the Korean War as part of the Marine Corps. His father fought in the Army. His brother is currently serving as a senior chief in the U.S. Coast Guard, on active duty.
“On this day and every day that we live free we should thank veterans for allowing us that opportunity in this great country,” said Dwyer.
The ceremony ended with those present singing God Bless America, followed by a generous spread of food and an open bar.