By ASHLEIGH LIVINGSTON
---- — PLATTSBURGH — Crowds gathered around the flagpole at Clinton Community College Monday to honor those who have fought to keep America the land of the free.
Hosted by the college’s Veterans Club, the annual Veterans Day ceremony served to remind attendees of the countless men and women in uniform who have served the country since its conception.
“We remember today our veterans, those who are with us physically and those who are with us only in spirit,” said keynote speaker Thomas Middleton, an Iraq War veteran and alumnus of Clinton Community.
Perhaps one of the best ways to pay tribute to military veterans, Middleton noted, is to ensure their sacrifices will never be in vain.
”We remember the fallen, but we remember also what it is that they stood for: selfless sacrifice to others above self, placing the needs of our nation above their own interests and above even the interests of their own family members,” he said.
TRIBUTE TO VENNE
During the program, veteran Jimmy Duvall, who is also a student at Clinton Community and member of the Veterans Club, asked that a moment of silence be observed for Staff Sgt. Dain T. Venne of Port Henry and Specialists Brett E. Gornewicz of Alden and Ryan P. Jayne of Campbell.
The three New York National Guard soldiers were killed by an improvised explosive device on Nov. 3 while conducting operations in Afghanistan.
Venne’s funeral will take place in Port Henry today.
Middleton also acknowledged the veterans of previous wars “who have come forward to make sure that no veteran comes home the way they did from Vietnam,” as well as prisoners of war and those missing in action.
“Hopefully, we’ll be reunited with those with whom we once served in the next life,” he said.
PRAYERS FOR PEACE
Also part of the ceremony was an invocation from Clinton County American Legion Auxiliary Chaplain Gerri Wright, who asked that people make every day, not just Veterans Day, a time to remember those who have served the country.
“Let us pray unceasingly for peace, peace in the hearts of those who made wars (and) peace in the hearts, minds and bodies who have fought these wars,” she said.
“Let us not only remember but never forget our debt of gratitude to our veterans.”
Wright added that people need be mindful of the programs and resources available for veterans when they return home from deployment, as well as for families of those serving in the military.
“There is much that can be done and much that we can do,” she said.
One such resource is the Clinton Community College Veterans Club, which, Duvall said, raises money for area veterans and helps them find answers to questions about the benefits they are entitled to.
“The club also provides a sense of belonging to veterans who are making the transition, not only into civilian life but into student life as well,” he said.
In addition to the words of speakers, veterans were honored with a 21-gun salute and a performance of “Taps” by Jim Bougill, a professor at the college.
Members of the Plattsburgh State ROTC Honor Guard were on hand to perform a ceremonial folding of the flag.
“This college has a tremendous place in local history and a tremendous role in passing on that history around us to tomorrow’s generation, and that’s what makes this particular observance so special,” Middleton said.
Email Ashleigh Livingston: firstname.lastname@example.org