The new memorial is unveiled at the ceremony Saturday in the new National Veterans Memorial Park in the town of Florida.
Veterans from across the area line up in the front of the crowd Saturday as the National Veterans Memorial Park ceremony dedication continued.
Amsterdam bagpiper Misha Murdoch plays “Amazing Grace” on bagpipes during the ceremony Saturday.
Rebecca Webster/Recorder News Staff
TOWN OF FLORIDA – Two war planes ceremoniously flew overhead Saturday morning as the dedication began for the new National Veterans Memorial Park in the town of Florida.
The crowd was speckled with emblems of the armed forces, and at the front of the crowd with the perfect view of the new park were a line of veterans, a few wiping tears from their eyes.
“What a tribute to those who served (in the) country’s armed forces, many of whom paid the ultimate price of sacrificing their lives for the freedom and liberty of all,” said Joe Inglese, a member of the Memorial Park Committee.
The monument and park will be a testament to battles fought by those serving the nation, Inglese told the crowd, and will serve as an educational tool for community members young and old.
But it is also there to remember the lives of loved ones lost, he added.
“I am so proud to be in this place at this time where so many have come together to reach a common goal,” he said as he thanked the crowd.
Eyes went up to watch the two planes fly above and they stayed up as hundreds of geese flew by as well, many people remarking on its beauty and presence.
Rev. Lawrence Becker blessed the crowd and those who have given their lives for the country.
At various times throughout the ceremony, Amsterdam bagpiper Misha Murdoch played songs for the crowd, including “The Minstrel Boy,” “Amazing Grace,” and other military songs.
Distinguished members of the community were present at the ceremony, seated in a special area right next the memorial that was covered by a red tarp.
Congressman Paul Tonko rose to say a few words to the crowd and remarked on the opportunity to pay tribute to the veterans.
“This is a magnificently well-done memorial, a dedication to those who have served us with every degree of devotion,” he said.
Tonko expressed that being there reminded him of the disruptions many homes sustained as men and women traveled into war zones and defended the country through war and peace.
“But that disruption was driven by, I believe, a sense of selflessness for a cause greater than oneself,” he said.
Other officials, including a representative from Senator Hugh Farley’s office and Amsterdam Mayor Ann Thane, addressed their thanks for the hard work of the community to make the memorial park a reality.
Later, guest speaker Dwight Thompson, Veteran Services Officer for Montgomery County, told the crowd that it’s important to remember not only the price paid by veterans for the country’s freedom, but the price paid by families as well.
He brought up the sobering realty of what many veterans face upon their return home: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, life-altering injuries, homelessness, and even difficulties finding jobs..
“We must heed the words of our first Commander in Chief General George Washington, who said in 1798, ‘The willingness with which our young people will fight in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional as to how they perceive the veterans of earlier wars who are treated and appreciated by their country,’” he said. “From their extraordinary accomplishments comes our extraordinary debt and for those accomplishments and dedication we must always be grateful.”
The monument was then unveiled showing five individuals in uniform etched into the stones face.
After the ceremony, Inglese said the day was an exciting conclusion to the hard work and ideas of several years.
“It’s coming to fruition,” he said. “It’s a wonderful thing.”
Inglese, whose daughter has been in the Marine Corps for 12 years, said he hopes it will become a point of interest for not only community members but those just passing through.
“We think it’s incredibly important because we have to pass on to the next generation (and) let them know the important sacrifices that were made by the country’s armed forces.”