Written by Thom Randall in The Sun Community News on June 1, 2020
CHESTERTOWN — Although the this year’s Memorial Day service in Chestertown was billed as a low-key event due to the COVID-19 pandemic. the ceremony featured the participation of two prominent legislators: U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik and state Assemblyman Dan Stec.
VFW Post 5513 Commander Harry Brundage said local veterans were surprised and honored to have both of them attend the May 25 ceremonies held consecutively in the hamlets of Chestertown and Adirondack.
“They could have been at many other Memorial Day ceremonies in the region, but they chose ours,” he said.
The services in Chestertown were conducted by American Legion 964 Commander Joanne Ellsworth. Addressing the 70-or-so people turning out for the ceremony, she said it was a solemn day of remembrance for those who died serving in the U.S. armed forces.
“Although our current life is shadowed in lockdown mode — amid fears, anxiety, and an unknown end to the craziness — we think of those who have given us hope and secured out freedoms so important to our souls,” she said.
Stefanik noted that northeastern New York, many citizens over the last 250-plus years had committed their lives to military service.
“In our region we have more veterans than most other parts of the U.S. — and this goes back to the tremendous history here of service and sacrifice above self,” she said, noting how the Battles of Saratoga in 1777 had “turned the tide” in the Revolutionary War. Since then, she added, area citizens have defended freedom in conflicts around the world.
“We should also take the time today to think about our Gold Star families, who have given the ultimate sacrifice,” she said, “We should continue throughout this summer to honor those who have served.”
Stec also urged people to remember those who sacrificed their lives to preserve freedom. Also, he noted how this Memorial Day was very different than those in past decades, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“When we get through this, we will come out stronger — as families and as communities — for our experience,” he said, praising people for reaching out to others and observing social distancing. “When we come out the other side, we will be better people for it.”
Town of Chester Supervisor Craig Leggett praised all the men and women who served the U.S. military, particularly those from northern Warren County.
“Their sacrifice has preserved a special gift of freedom we’ve sworn to uphold and are mindful of with each action we take,” he said.
Horicon Town Supervisor Matt Simpson said he felt honored to recall the bravery and heroism of those who “paid the ultimate sacrifice” on behalf of their fellow U.S. citizens.
“May we all make a solemn pledge to continue the work that they started — to assure that the gift of freedom which we cherish is preserved for future generations to carry on.”
North Warren junior high school student Kirsten Librett sang the National Anthem, and American Legion Auxiliary members laid a memorial wreath at the center of the town’s Veterans Memorial Plaza.
At the conclusion of the service — broadcast on Facebook Live — Jerry Meader stepped forward and asked those attending to greet to Roger Daby, a veteran of three foreign wars, who was likely watching the service from a rehabilitation center in Florida rather than his hometown of Horicon.
The dozens attending responded in unison, “Hi Jerry!”
Stefanik and Stec then traveled north to the hamlet of Adirondack, accompanied by a dozen or so veterans, to conduct a second Memorial Day ceremony in the Jeremiah J. Monroe Memorial Park.
During this second service, they honored the memory of Monroe, a soldier in the U.S. Army who was killed in September 2009 by a roadside bomb while serving in Kandahar, Afghanistan.
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