Veterans Day: Community turns out in support of veterans
Residents throughout the region took time on Saturday to honor those who have served their country.
At the Madison County War Veterans Committee ceremony in Wampsville, Gary Ford, a retired teacher who taught American history at Rome Free Academy for more than 33 years, and who was chosen three times as “Most Influential Educator,” spoke about the role veterans play in American society.
“It is the veteran, not the preacher who gives us the freedom of religion,” Ford said. “It is the veteran, not the reporter who gives us freedom of speech. It is the veteran, not the poet who gives us freedom of expression.”
He also recounted tales of veterans he’d often tell his classes. In particular, he spoke of Jerry Schillow and Earl Brooks, who both served during World War II.
Schillow fought the Japanese in the South Pacific, served aboard the Queen Mary and out ran a German U-Boat off the coast of South America, Ford recounted.
Brooks was someone who couldn’t stand the noise of the artillery guns and decided to join the infantry, only to single handedly take out five German machine guns and earn the Silver Star, Ford explained.
Ford said he was proud of his students, because when the bell rang, they didn’t run off. “They mobbed the man,” Ford said when the children
met Schillow. “They recognized a real hero.”
When talking to Ford after the class all those years ago, Schillow said, “I have to do this. I have to speak for those who no longer can.”
Students also took the time to speak, with Otto Shortell Middle School students Joey Sayles and Hannah Jeffery discussing the importance of voting.
In Canastota, members of the Charles Miller Post 140 American Legion took part in the time-honored tradition of retiring the flag.
“Aflagmay be a flimsy bit of printed gauze, or a beau- tiful banner of finest silk. Its intrinsic value may be trifling or great, but the real value is beyond price,” Commander Frank Garlock said. “For it is a previous symbol of all that we and our comrades have worked and lived for, and died for - a free nation of free men and women, true to the faith of the past, devoted to the ideals and practice of justice, freedom and democracy.”
Members of the Canastota American Legion prepare to start the ceremony and retire a number of flags on Nov. 112017.
A member of the Canastota American Legion walks by the pile of flags being retired on Nov. 112017.
Hannah Jeffery, 6th Grade, at Otto Shortell Middle School smiles from applause after reading her essay on Nov. 112017
Joey Sayles 6th Grade, at Otto Shortell Middle School reads his essay to the crowd on Nov. 112017