A debt of gratitude

Some call it Remembrance Day, others Armistice Day or, as it has been officially known since 1954, Veterans Day. Whatever the name, the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month bears special significance.

This year marks the 91st observance of this day, commemorating the armistice agreement which brought “the war to end all wars” to an unofficial end in 1918. Over time, it has become a day to recognize all veterans for their service to our great nation and acknowledge the sacrifices our men and women in uniform make on behalf of our country each and every day.

In communities all across America, the past and present members of our armed forces are feted with parades, ceremonies and wreath layings organized by veterans organizations like the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and the American Legion. Poppies are worn in remembrance of those who lost their lives in the service to our country.

Some are big to-dos, others simple, somber memorials. Each is a chance for us to pay tribute to those who have sacrificed so much to safeguard our freedom.

I have attended events at both ends of the spectrum in the last two years – from the Veterans Day parade in Norwich, to the simple ceremony held at the American Legion Post in McDonough. At each, the debt we owe our veterans and the men and women in our armed forces, truly hit home.

These fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, husbands, wives and friends personify honor and courage. They are heroes in the truest sense of the word, and deserve our support and heart-felt gratitude every day. For they, and their families, are the ones who sacrifice to keep our great nation free.

Today, I give my thanks to all of our veterans including my friends, former classmates and family members who have served and continue to serve our country: Randy Donaldson, Ed LaChance, Brian Ostrowski, Rick Langille, Jamie Bancroft, Tony Bancroft, Adam Sutton, Devin Miller, Conan Kennedy, Joe Motyka, Joseph Angelino, Mathew Giltner, Scott Sheldon, Greg LaMonica, Keven Bucklin, Scott Sutton, Blake Connick, Hugh Becker, John Capozucca, James “Buddy” Lennon, Richard Lopresti, Richard Lopresti, Jr., Sal Lopresti, William Farrell, Timothy Farrell, Jim Farrell, Michael Farrell, and so many, many more.

Thank you, too, to the New York State Veterans Home in Oxford and each of the individuals who call it home, for once again welcoming me this year. And to the American Legion and VFW, both for their service, and their continued commitment to supporting veterans.

Let us never forget the dedication, commitment, effort, patriotism and sacrifice of those who have served in our military. They deserve nothing but our continuous respect, recognition and appreciation.

To all of our veterans, thank you.

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