A time to honor our veterans

On Veterans Day, Americans should pause and reflect on the sacrifices made by our veterans. Whether combat veterans or Cold War veterans, all who served need to be given proper praise for a job well done. Our veterans have faced hardships that a non-veteran could never fully understand. Some have faced death in defending our nation’s freedom. Veterans possess the core American values of loyalty, duty, respect, honor, selfless service, personal courage and integrity.

We need to teach our children the true meaning of Veterans Day and the best way to do so is for adults to set a good example. We must keep the torch of memory alive and never forget the sacrifices of our veterans. We must get American military history back into the classroom and the home. The youth of today have to learn about the heroes of yesterday.

All veterans, whether combat veterans, combat-era veterans or Cold War veterans have had their lives altered by their time in the service. Prior to entering the service, some soldiers had never left their home community, yet while in the service they may have visited places throughout the United States or overseas. Some may have never have had the opportunity to live, work and play with other ethnic groups. These life experiences are what make veterans unique and better members of their communities.

Veterans deserve to know that we appreciate their service. We must let our veterans know that we truly believe America is better because of their service and sacrifice. Take the time to thank a veteran, not just on Veterans Day, but any day that you get the chance to meet a veteran.

In recent years, I have been afforded a wonderful opportunity to pay special tribute to our homegrown veterans through the New York State Senate Veterans Hall of Fame. The hall of fame was created to honor and recognize outstanding veterans from the Empire State who have distinguished themselves both in military and civilian life.

Nominees from across the state travel to the Capitol for a special induction ceremony on the floor of the state senate. Among those gathered this year was my inductee from the 51st senate district – Anthony Gabriel Jr. of Herkimer.

Anthony J. Gabriel, Jr. of Herkimer, proudly served our nation for a total of thirty-six years in the United States Army, enlisting as a buck Private in 1948 and retiring as a full Colonel in 1984. He performed at an exemplary level during his time in the European Theater, Korean War zones and while training his successors.

In his civilian life, he has been a devoted community leader; serving as village trustee, Herkimer Boxing Club president, 4th degree knight/life member of the Knights of Columbus, and helped build many Mohawk Valley landmarks as a past president/life member of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters & Joiners of America.

He is also a life member/past post commander of Michael Pliseck V.F.W. Post #4915. He served on the committee that was the first in the nation to send WWII veterans to Washington, DC, to visit their WWII memorial.

You can read more about Anthony and the rest of the hall of fame inductees on-line, at www.nysenate.gov/initiatives/honoring-our-veterans. Also, I will be seeking additional nominees next year, so if you know a worthy veteran be sure and advise me when I solicit applications in the spring.

Veterans Day is the time we recall the courageous legacy of soldiers who fought in our nation’s wars, from the War of Independence to Operation Iraqi Freedom. Today our soldiers, men and women, are carrying on a legacy of valor and service that soldiers before them established throughout our nation’s history. Our country was made safe by their sacrifices.

On November 11 let's remember our veterans and their service to our country.

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