SOMERS, N.Y. — Between Hurricane Sandy — a disaster that caused massive power outages and blocked roads — and Wednesday's nor'easter, the people of Somers and other communities in the tri-state area have gotten a taste of hardship in the past two weeks.
But, as attendees at Somers' Veteran Day parade and ceremony at Ivandell Cemetery were reminded Sunday, this recent experience reflects only the smallest portion of what America's soldiers overseas go through on a daily basis.
Veterans Day was established to commemorate the World War I armistice and the homecoming of all military veterans.
The Somers community observed the day Sunday with speeches, prayers, a wreath-laying ceremony, and the playing of taps and a 21-gun salute.
The ceremony featured Cub Scouts and Girl Scouts, the Somers Lions Club, the Somers Volunteer Fire Department, the police department and numerous officials, among them newly elected town councilman Tony Cirieco.
Somers Town Supervisor Mary Beth Murphy said the inconvenience of being without electricity, water or heat is a small price in comparison to that paid by the country's veterans of World War II, Vietnam, Korea, Iraq and Afghanistan.
“As I admire our veterans standing so solemnly here, I am reminded that they suffered far more than inconvenience to preserve our great nation and the freedoms and liberties we enjoy as citizens here," Murphy said.
These soldiers willingly put themselves in harm’s way to protect American democracy, she said. While the Nov. 6 election was heated, it stands as an example of the freedom and democracy these veterans fought to protect.
Mike Kaplowitz, vice chairperson of the Westchester County Board of Legislators, also spoke about the significance of the past few tumultuous weeks: "Out of all the difficulties, we have learned one shining and positive lesson: We are all in this together."
Kaplowitz described the way in which the different agencies in his constituency worked together to restore transportation, communication and safety to their communities, highlighting the tireless work of the DPW crews, firefighters, ambulance corps, government at all levels and utility line crews.
But, he said, in the grand scheme, the veterans in attendance Sunday “embody the best of working together and sacrificing for the sake our country, our very democracy and way of life."