OXFORD – When Greg Furlong visited the New York State Veterans Home in Oxford in April, he wore a T-shirt. The back read: “If you can read this, thank a teacher. If you can read this in English, thank a veteran.”
It isn’t just lip service. The Cobleskill resident feels strongly about honoring the 16 million Americans who served in the military during World War II. He has made it a personal mission to see that these veterans get their due.
“Had they not sacrificed so much, endured for so long, prevailed so decisively ... the world we live in would be very, very different than the one we live in today,” said Furlong, who is president of Leatherstocking Honor Flight.
Based in Schoharie County, the organization is part of the Honor Flight Network, a nationwide effort which makes it possible for WWII vets to visit Washington and see the memorial dedicated in their honor at no cost to them.
The World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. opened to the public in 2004. It is dedicated in memory of the nearly 420,000 service men and women who died for their country during the war, and in honor of all those who served. Unfortunately, by the time it opened, many of the veterans it was intended to honor were well into their 80s, and lacked the physical and/or financial ability to see it for themselves. That’s where the Honor Flight Network comes in. Founded in 2005, the organization now has 92 hubs in 33 states, including five in New York.