Veterans’ organizations still have a way to go in accepting women in their ranks, Beth Akulin, commander of VFW Post 1206 in Oneonta, inset at right, said during her address at Veterans Day ceremonies at the top of Neahwa Park’s Memorial Parkway at 11-11-11 this morning. While there are 1.3 million female veterans today, she said, “I have been yelled at for parking in a veterans parking place, or because I ask for a military discount, because they assumed my husband served and not me. It is important: People need to know and recognize that women have served and done the same job as men.” she said, “Veterans come in all sizes, shapes and genders. We need to thank all of them.” Top photo, the Oneonta Vets Club honor guard – from left, American Legion Post 259 Commander Terry Harkenreader, and veterans Len Carson, Wayne Gregory, Gary Walters, Bruce Von Holtz, Bernie White and Jim Williams – carry the colors to this morning’s commemoration. (Ian Austin/AllOTSEGO.com)
The Oneonta Community Concert Band, above, held its 18th annual Salute To Veterans Concert in the halls of the Foxcare Center this evening. One audience member, 90-year-old Leslie Collins, right, was so moved by their performance of “The Armed Forces Salute” by Bob Lowden, he approached director Andrew Pease to ask if he could recite the poem, “For The Fallen,” by Lawrence Binyon. Pease obliged. The poem, written in 1914, is often recited at Remembrance Day events and has been claimed as a tribute to all casualties of World War I and all wars. (Ian Austin/AllOTSEGO.com)
With 100 years since the end of World War I, and 99 since President Woodrow Wilson commemorated the event with Armistice Day, veterans gathered today at Veterans Memorial Walkway in Neahwa Park in observance of Veterans’ Day. Above, Wayne Gregory, Oneonta, plays ‘Taps” as a worn American Flag is ceremoniously retired and burned during the ceremony. Inset at right, Oneonta Legion Commander Gary Ballard and Tom McMillen, front, lead the rifle detail, Jim Williams, Conesville, Bertie White, Oneonta, Terry Harkenreader, Oneonta, and Perry Martin, Hell’s Hollow, along with members of the Color Guard Gary Walters, Oneonta, and Barry Townsend, Oneonta, down the Memorial Walkway. “A Veteran’s character is shaped by their experiences,” said Ballard, ” A veteran stands for something greater than themselves. On this day we remind ourselves how these men and women set aside their civilian pursuits to serve their nations’ cause. Defending the freedoms of mankind and preserving our precious American Heritage.” (Ian Austin/AllOTSEGO.com)
Veterans, families and friends gathered to enjoy selections of historical patriotic music performed this afternoon by the Oneonta Community Concert Band at it’s 17th annual Salute To Veterans Concert at the Foxcare Center. Above, local veterans Tony Drago, Army, and John Brooks, Air Corps, applaud as the band finishes “Hail To The Spirit of Liberty” by John Philip Sousa. At right, Gretchen Becker, Walton, on tuba, and percussionists Ben Wendrow, Oneonta, and Dave Geasey, Oneonta, perform “The Official West Point March” by Philip Egner. (Ian Austin/AllOTSEGO.com)
CONCERT – 7:30 p.m. the Catskill Symphony Orchestra presents their Veterans day concert featuring Angelo Xian Yu performing Beethoven, Timothy Perry performing Mozart, Victor Sungarian performing Strauss. Tickets, Free to Veterans, $30 all others. Hunt Union Ballroom, SUNY Oneonta. Call 607-436-2670 or visit catskillsymphony.net
VETERANS & COMMUNITIES – Noon-5 p.m. Enjoy free lunch buffet followed by workshops, readings, & discussion of war, peace, country. Free, open to the public. Bright Hill Press & Literary Center, 94 Church St., Treadwell. Call 607-829-5055 or visit brighthillpress.org
Veterans Day commemorations are planned today in Oneonta, Cooperstown and around Otsego County at 11-11-11, when the Armistice ending World War I was signed at 11 a.m. on the 11th day of November in 1918.
In Oneonta, the commemoration will be at the monuments at the top of Veterans Memorial Walkway in Neawha Park. In Cooperstown, at the Doughboy Monument at the foot of Pine Boulevard across from The Otesaga.
For Jay Palmer, Westford, Schenevus Central School’s annual Veterans Day breakfast isn’t just a meal – it’s a chance to remind the next generations about the price of freedom. “I come to show these young kids that a lot people gave their lives for the country they live in today,” he said. “Freedom isn’t free.”
Palmer, who was stationed at a U.S. naval base in Japan in 1958-67, was one of 45 veterans of Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan who attended the 14th annual breakfast Monday, Nov. 10. “This school has a long-standing history of hosting veterans for this breakfast,” said Jake Palmateer, ONC BOCES public relations specialist.
The 12th grade government class started the breakfast in 2000, but this year, the 50th anniversary of the U.S. escalation in Vietnam War, fourth-grade teachers Shannon Weir and Kathleen Walke wanted their pupils to deepen their understanding of soldiers’ sacrifice. “We talked about why we appreciate them and why we have tomorrow off,” said Weir. “They fought so that we could have the rights to the education they’re receiving.”
The fourth graders helped serve breakfast, sat with the veterans and put pins in the “Where Have You Been?” map to show where veterans were stationed around the world.
In addition, 420 students from pre-K to fourth grade replicated the Vietnam Memorial in the cafeteria, but instead of names of the deceased, they decorated the walls with pictures, poems and letters of thanks the veterans for their service. “We’re not in D.C. to see The Wall, so we created our own,” said Weir. “We want them to have that personal connection.”
The a cappella choir performed the National Anthem, and the high school band entertained diners with Duke Ellington’s “Satin Doll” and “The Patriotic Spectacle.” And before the speakers began, the entire fourth grade lined up to read Cheryl Dyson’s poem, “Veteran’s Day.”
First Sgt. George Ost, a National Guardsman who served in Iraq, was the guest speaker, with his daughter, senior Danielle Ost, reading a poem to introduce him. “When I think of veterans, I think of Vietnam vets,” he said. “We appreciate our vets today, but we also need to think about our past.”
In addition, the Iroquois chapter of the DAR presented each veteran with a star cut from retired American flags, part of the national Stars For Our Troops program. “I met a woman who had worn hers in her helmet when she fought in Iraq,” said Roxanne Murray. “It inspired us to start giving them out last year.”
Since then, over 200 have been given to soldiers in Otsego County, and many have been sent to troops overseas.
“Seeing these soldiers shows them what it takes to be a good citizen,” said Weir. “It’s about being respectful, responsible and making sacrifices.”
“Our kids look up to you,” said Supt. of Schools Thomas Jennings told the vets. “And you’re the best example they have.”