NOTH SALEM, N.Y. - North Salem honored its veterans at 11 a.m. on Friday with a touching ceremony at the Town Hall annex.
American Legion Commander Herb Geller, who was inducted into the 40th District Veterans Hall of Fame on Thursday night, opened the proceedings by thanking town officials, members of the fire and police departments, and all of the various volunteers who helped to see the town through the difficult days of Hurricane Irene and the October snow storm.
Veterans Day is celebrated to honor living veterans, Geller said, unlike Memorial Day, which honors the people who died before they had an opportunity to become veterans. He said that our country is at war in Afghanistan fighting against terror and urged everyone to support our troops who are trying to bring it all to a peaceful and just solution. All Americans owe our veterans a debt of gratitude.
Ellen Wenis, president of the American Legion Auxiliary, presented a prayer of thanks to all veterans and prayed for our troops, as well as the victims of the 9/11 attacks, their families and friends. She prayed that we find courage to live with a family of nations and patience in planning a world by peaceful means. She asked for wisdom, peace and victory in the struggle against evil.
Supervisor Warren Lucas also expressed gratitude on behalf of the town to the many volunteers who helped the town through its latest weather related problems, specifically mentioning Janice Hellwinkel, the Lions Club and Karen Roach.
Following is a transcription of Lucass speech, entitled 11/11/11:
Across our great country . and throughout the world Americans will pause Friday November 11th, to honor our brave fighting men and women . who for 235 years have underwritten our freedom by their duty honor and selfless service.
We recognize that all our veterans have given something of themselves to this country and some have given their all - laying down their lives to defend the freedoms we hold so dear.
93 years ago today, the battlefields of Europe fell quiet as World War I came to a close. That day November 11th was celebrated yearly as Armistice Day and after WWII the named was changed to Veterans Day.
We don't mark this day each year as a celebration of victory, as proud of that victory as we are but we mark this day as a celebration of those who made victory possible -- our veterans.
It's a day we keep in our thoughts the brave men and women of this young nation -- generations of them who above all else believed in and fought for a set of ideals. Because they did, our country still stands; our founding principles still shine and nations around the world that once knew nothing but fear now know the blessings of freedom.
Americas veteran has changed history, they have given hope to people in many countries. Hope for a new life, a better life, not one controlled, not one of despair, but one where personal freedoms are guaranteed and the right of every person to control their lifes destiny is upheld.
Recently on TV, a newsman who grew up in the USSR confronted a mother and her son from the Occupy Wall Street group in New York. They had signs stressing the benefits of Socialism where everything is shared and no one goes for want. He laughed and said I lived it. Millions of people died there, poverty was everywhere and the self dignity that should be found in every individual was missing. They told him he was wrong, he was telling lies.
There are people in this country who are clue-less, who, if it were not for the people who fight for them, would not survive long in todays world. America owes its Veterans, who have stood in harms way whenever our liberties or the liberties of those abroad are threatened, our greatest thanks.
We thank God for the men and women who serve the cause of freedom, whenever and wherever our country has called them. The men and women who have walked the side streets of Fallujah; who fly the cobra gun-ships into battle in Afghanistan; who took island after island away from the Japanese in the Pacific Ocean; who sloshed through the jungles of Vietnam and the cold and hills of Korea. We call these people veterans, We call these people our heroes. We thank them for protecting us all and we welcome them home after their battles to the land they defended.
We say thank you to all or veterans here today. Your service has protected us and our families. We very much appreciate what you have done for us at great personal peril.
Finally, we thank all of you for being here. Your presence here today makes a wonderful statement that the sacrifices our veterans have made for us remains vividly in our memories and will never be forgotten.
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