Story by Lon Tytell
A military exhibit honoring and remembering local veterans is now on display at the A.W. Buckbee Center, located at 2 Colonial Ave. in Warwick, daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Wed., Jun. 14.
The exhibit, organized by Daniel Burger, Commander of the Warwick Valley VFW Post #4662 and Laura Smykla, Commander of the Nicholas P. Lesando, Jr. American Legion Post #214 and supported by many volunteers, includes a collection of military paintings by Warwick artist Robert Fletcher, as well as uniforms, photos, plaques, medals, and other memorabilia.
The paintings by Fletcher, a Korean War Veteran, feature three generations of the Stewart family of Warwick, in addition to individual depictions of local veterans Nicholas P. Lesando, Sr. and Clayton Eurich. Name plaques, on loan from the Warwick Town Hall, are displayed throughout the exhibit and recognize local citizens who served in the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War and the Persian Gulf War. The plaques serve as a backdrop for the uniforms and memorabilia that accompany them.
The Iraq and Afghanistan War display features the uniform and Purple Heart bio of Lt. Col. Jaimie Leonard, who was a graduate of Warwick Valley High School and West Point and was killed in Afghanistan in 2013. An ordnance table, covers from Time Magazine, Bugle Notes, and the original charter of the Warwick VFW, as well as the Warwick American Legion, are also part of the exhibit.
On Sat., Jun. 3, an outdoor ceremony titled, “Remembering Our Veterans” took place near the A.W. Buckbee Center. The flags of all the branches of the Armed Forces and the POW/MIA Flag, held by local veterans, were joined by the presentation of the American Flag by Gregory Hoover, a member of Nam Knights who arrived on a motorcycle accompanied by his grandson, Andrew Hoover. Devin Murray and Mairin MacDougall sang a beautiful rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner.”
Daniel Burger, Commander of the Warwick VFW, thanked Village of Warwick Mayor Michael Newhard, the Village of Warwick Sesquicentennial Committee, Warwick Town Supervisor Michael Sweeton, the Town Board, the members of the Warwick Valley VFW, the Warwick American Legion, the Warwick Historical Society, the Vernon Historical Society, and members of the community who shared their memorabilia honoring the local veterans.
Don Grenier, a Korean War Veteran and Chaplain of the Warwick VFW, gave an invocation and spoke about the significance of Memorial Day and the American Flag. Evarist LeMay, a Korean Veteran and a member of the Warwick VFW, shared information about the South Korean Museum, which honors all of the Americans who died in the Korean War.
After the ceremony, members of the Amity Foundation for Healing with Horses, along with some of their horses, shared how veterans have benefited from their experiences with these animals.