South­ern Saratoga YMCA hon­ors vet­er­ans

The Saratogian (Saratoga, NY) - - LOCAL NEWS - By Glenn Grif­fith ggrif­[email protected]­ @cn­weekly on Twit­ter

CLIFTON PARK, N.Y. >> The south­ern Saratoga YMCA on Satur­day put a pause on its busy week­end pro­gram­ming to stop and rec­og­nize all mil­i­tary vet­er­ans liv­ing in the com­mu­nity at the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s an­nual Vet­er­ans Recog­ni­tion Day event.

Each year as Vet­er­ans Day ap­proaches the lo­cal branch of the YMCA holds a pub­lic cer­e­mony in its gym­na­sium to give the vet­er­ans and their fam­i­lies a chance to so­cial­ize and re­ceive a pub­lic thank you from an ap­pre­cia­tive com­mu­nity.

The event asks or­ga­ni­za­tions with con­nec­tions to the mil­i­tary like the Civil Air Pa­trol, Na­tional Guard, Daugh­ters of the Amer­i­can Rev­o­lu­tion, the Clifton Park Elks, Ther­apy Dogs In­ter­na­tional, and the New York State Mil­i­tary Mu­seum to at­tend the event and set up in­for­ma­tion ta­bles for the vet­er­ans and their fam­i­lies to pe­ruse.

The em­cee for the event was Katie Massie, di­rec­tor of mem­ber­ship for the South­ern Saratoga YMCA. Massie noted that she has sev­eral fam­ily mem­bers who are ei­ther serv­ing in the armed forces or have served in the past. As prepa­ra­tion for the event, she asked each of them what Vet­er­ans Day meant to them.

“I think my un­cle who is a lieu­tenant colonel in the U.S. Air Force said it best,” Massie said. “Vet­er­ans Day, he told me, is a day for all ci­ti­zens to take a minute and rec­og­nize the vet­er­ans who have given their all for their county so that we may have the free­dom that we take ad­van­tage of each day.”

Join­ing her in thank­ing the 125 vet­er­ans in the au­di­ence and their fam­ily mem­bers were Rep. Paul Tonko, D-Am­s­ter­dam, state Sen. Jim Tedisco, R-Glenville, and Assem­bly­woman Mary Beth Walsh, R-Ball­ston Spa.

Tonko noted the 20th Con­gres­sional District is home to many vet­er­ans and said he hon­ored all vet­er­ans who’ve served this coun­try so it can re­main “a bea­con of hope.” But he noted also, that the coun­try owes the vet­er­ans some­thing in re­turn.

“I think that as we gather to sa­lute our vet­er­ans, we need to re­mind our­selves that they call upon us a sense of re­spon­si­bil­ity, a chal­lenge that will forever re­main for us,” he said. “The way we re­flect upon and re­spect our vet­er­ans is to make cer­tain that we em

brace each and every value, and prin­ci­ple, and free­dom for which they fought and for which many died.”

In his re­marks, Tedisco looked back on his many years of mak­ing Vet­eran’s Day speeches.

“When­ever I made [those] speeches, all those events, all those speeches, when I left, I al­ways felt I had fallen short be­cause we can never com­mem­o­rate or show the ap­pre­ci­a­tion we have or feel is nec­es­sary for the men and women we are hon­or­ing today,” he said. “We live these in­alien­able rights at the high­est level of any­one in the world be­cause of what these men and women did.”

Walsh ac­knowl­edged that be­ing a state leg­is­la­tor has al­lowed her to do many things con­nected to the mil­i­tary. She has flown in the C-130, vis­ited a lo­cal Nu­clear Power Training fa­cil­ity, and in­ter­acted with vet­er­ans and vet­er­ans’ groups through­out the area. Thanks to those meet­ings and the events in which she par­tic­i­pated, Walsh said she has come to know much more about the vet­er­ans’ com­mu­nity and thanked the vet­er­ans in the room for their ser­vice.

As part of the event, the South­ern Saratoga YMCA do­nated $500 to the Foreverly House, a planned home for re­cently dis­charged woman vet­er­ans in Ball­ston Spa as they tran­si­tion to civil­ian life. The two-story home will be the only one in the state that houses women vet­er­ans and their chil­dren.

The event’s key­note speaker was Brig. Gen. John An­donie, Di­rec­tor, Joint Staff, New York State Na­tional Guard. With the 75th an­niver­sary of World War II’s Bat­tle of the Bulge fast ap­proach­ing, An­donie gave a brief his­tory of what many call the most im­por­tant bat­tle of the 20th cen­tury.

“The Ger­man army’s ef­fort to flip the Al­lied front didn’t hap­pen be­cause of the re­solve and the de­ter­mi­na­tion of the Amer­i­can sol­dier, sailor, air­man, and Ma­rine,” he said. “The vet­er­ans of that bat­tle ex­hib­ited the same qual­i­ties of all of Amer­i­can’s vet­er­ans in every war that we’ve ever fought; the re­solve and com­mit­ment to de­fend free­dom and our way of life. I be­lieve that’s in the heart of every Amer­i­can vet­eran. That’s what we do be­cause we be­lieve in these things.”

When the vet­er­ans them­selves stepped to the mi­cro­phone to make a few re­marks one of the most riv­et­ing was Dan Ri­ley the very first vet­eran who stepped up. Ri­ley, 95, served in the Navy in World War II with an am­phibi­ous unit. He re­called be­ing on board ship when it was an­nounced that Pres­i­dent Roo­sevelt had died.

“It was quite a trau­matic day be­cause we all won­dered what the hell would hap­pen next,” he said. “There wasn’t a sound. We were all look­ing down at our shoes. We won­dered who was go­ing to look out for us. No­body knew a thing about [Vice Pres­i­dent] Harry Tru­man.”

An­other vet­eran, Eu­gene Martin, 90, a Korean War vet­eran, gave thanks to the YMCA for keep­ing him spry and for the Leather­stock­ing Honor Flight or­ga­ni­za­tion that flew him to Wash­ing­ton, D.C. to see the mil­i­tary mon­u­ments.

When it came time for New York Army Na­tional Guard, LTC, re­tired, Paul Fan­ning to speak, he put the coda on the day.

“We’re not go­ing to for­get,” he said.


Mil­i­tary vet­er­ans Dan Ri­ley, left, a vet­eran of World War II and Eu­gene Martin, right, a vet­eran of the Korean War en­joy the South­ern Saratoga YMCA’s Vet­er­ans Recog­ni­tion Day.

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