Story by Janmarie Foschini
In the Village of Greenwood Lake, the Annual Veterans Day Ceremony was held at the Arthur Finnegan American Legion Post 1443 on Sun., Nov. 11. The ceremony was standing room only, filled with local EMS, Fire, Police, Boy Scouts, Ladies Auxiliary, Village and Town officials, families, friends and community members paying tribute to Veterans.
The legion hall was decorated beautifully with tables decorated patriotically. A Wall of Remembrance lined the room, symbolizing all the men and women who have died from New York State, while serving their country.
American Legion Commander and Veteran Gerry Brewer opened the ceremony welcoming and thanking everyone for attending. He said he was happy to see so many people helping to remember Veterans Day.
Commander Brewer talked about his experience being in the Marines and going to Vietnam and how he had to adjust back to civilian life upon his return.
“When I go about my daily routine, people come up to me thanking me for my service. The mood of the country is very different. I, and all the service men and women are grateful,” said Commander Brewer, who then rang a bell as a solemn reminder of the sacrifice and service of Veterans of the Great War, and of all Veterans.
“Bells of Peace: A World War One Remembrance” encourages citizens and organizations across the nation to toll bells in their communities. Following Commander Brewers speech, First Vice Commander Tom Mulcahy addressed the crowd welcoming everyone to the service to honor America’s War Veterans.
“On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month the fighting of World War I ended in 1918. This is the 100th Anniversary of the end of World War I,” said First Vice Commander Mulcahy.
He then explained how the day was originally declared “Armistice Day” eight years after the ending of World War I and honored only Veterans of that war. In 1954 after World War II and the Korean War, it was renamed Veterans Day to honor all the Veterans who served America in war and defended democracy.
“So today we honor all of our Veterans who unselfishly placed their lives on the line for our freedom,” Mulcahy.
Fr. Robert Sweeney then led the opening prayer. He spoke of the symbolism of the round table, explaining each piece the table is round to show an everlasting devotion and concern for fallen and missing comrades. The cloth is white to symbolize the purity of their motives when answering the call of duty. The single red rose, displayed in a vase, reminds everyone of the life, and the blood that was shed, and their loved ones and friends who keep the faith and await answers.
The vase is tied with a red ribbon as symbol of commitment and continued determination to account for the missing. A slice of lemon on the plate is a reminder of the bitter fate of those captured and missing in a foreign land. The salt is a reminder of the tears endured by those missing and their families who still seek answers. The black napkin is a reminder of the isolation, deprivation, and cruel fate the missing.
The Bible represents the strength gained through faith to sustain those lost from the country, founded as one nation under God. The glass is inverted to symbolize their inability to share this evening with others. The chair is empty and tilted because they are not here and will remain so until they return or are accounted for.
Town of Warwick Councilman Floyd DeAngelo was in attendance and spoke on behalf of the Town Board as well. He thanked the Legion, Auxiliary and Sons of the Legion for having this gathering to honor Veterans.
“The service members we honor today came from all walks of life, but they shared several fundamental qualities. They possessed courage, pride, determination, selflessness, dedication to duty and integrity,” said Councilman DeAngelo.
Village of Greenwood Lake Trustee Tom Howley, representing Mayor Jesse Dwyer and the Village Board, thanked the officers and members of the Legion for hosting the ceremony and for allowing everyone to gather and share the special day with them.
“It’s very important to show gratitude to all those who left their families to go and serve. Thank you for your service and God Bless America,” said Trustee Howley.
As the ceremony proceeded, Commander Brewer and the First Vice Commander on behalf of the entire American Legion, honored and recognized Greenwood Lake Scout Member Brendan Hallinan of Troop 477. Brendan recently earned the ranks of Eagle Scout. Brendan was presented a plaque in recognition of his hard work and wonderful accomplishment.
As the ceremony began to conclude Annmarie Saberese, President of the Ladies Auxiliary said, “When you see somebody with a hat or a emblem or a coat put your hand on your heart and outstretch your fingers every service member knows that means thank you – thank you for your service.”