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Canajoharie, NY ,

Locals honor veterans and military missing and deceased

Tuesday, May 27, 2014 - Updated: 9:58 AM


C-S-E Editor

The local area truly knows how to honor its veterans and military lost, including the deceased and missing in action, with hundreds of residents turning out for celebrations in Canajoharie, Fort Plain and St. Johnsville. While Memorial Day events took place in each community on Monday morning, Memorial Day weekend officially kicked off Friday with the annual, early morning parade held at the OESJ Middle School.

This year, the parade featured the the OESJ Wolf Gang Music Middle School Band, along with a procession of pre-k through eighth grade students, who after emerging from behind the OESJ Middle School in grand formation, then marching though its parking lot, gathered on the lawn in front of the school to sing patriotic songs and witness a 21 gun salute by members of St. Johnsville American Legion Post 168, who also placed a memorial wreath on the honorary monument on site, which was then surrounded by band members that somberly performed TAPS.

American Legion Commander Tony Susi said of the event, "It's great. We hold this every year," noting his appreciation of the fact that so many of the community's young understand Memorial Day's importance.

Around 9:45 a.m. Monday, the sound of distant drumming could be heard as people gathered anxiously along St. Johnsville's Main St. Soon enough, the annual parade, led by a group of veterans, appeared, making their way past the huge, appreciative crowd to Soldiers and Sailors Park, where a touching, well-attended ceremony took place.

Also participating in the parade were to OESJ Central School District marching bands (one from the high school, the other from the middle school), along with military vehicles including tanks, village officials and departments and St. Johnsville Little League.

The parade also featured Honorary Grand Marshals PFC Dennis Fraiser, PFC Lester Ropeter, and PFC Andrew Susi.

The ceremony in Soldiers and Sailors Park commenced directly after the parade, with all the parade's participants lining the park's perimeter, the day's honored veterans lining up in formation in front of the park's monument, listening to the day's speakers, which included Rev. David Johnson, George Amedore, and the event's main speaker, MRML Director Dawn Lamphere.

Johnson begin the ceremony with a prayer, stating, "There is no greater nation than ours. Your blessing has caused her to be that city shining on a hill, bringing the truth of freedom and liberty to the world. But, it has not been without cost. The price has come paid in blood, sweat and tears for the cause of independence and freedoms we all take for granted."

Following a performance of "God Bless America" by the OESJ High School Band, and a performance of "My Country" by the OESJ Middle School Band, who insistently, proudly shouted the song's title prior to singing, was an acapella performance of the National Anthem by Grace Yezierski.

Lamphere, prior to delivering her own speech, which was peppered with quotes from former presidents Ronald Reagan and John F. Kennedy, Jr., read a proclamation from New York State Senator Cecilia Tkaczyk, who was down the road participating in Fort Plain's parade, stating, "many of today's warriors know what it means to lose a friend too soon and all our servicemen and women and their families understand the true meaning of sacrifice."

Tkaczyk continued, "our nation's voters deserve to be commended and thanked by the people of the state of New York for their service and dedication to their communities, their state and their nation." The speech concluded with Tkaczyk commending and thanking the village of St. Johnsville and American Legion Post 168.

Lamphere's speech began, "there is always a conversation that picks up in our schools, our workplaces and our communities prior to our military and veteran centered holidays. People ask, 'how can we best honor and remember our nation's veterans and those who have fallen in service to our country?' We can and should talk about heroism and sacrifice, and if you flip through the history books, you will be inundated with accounts of bravery that still resonate deep within us decades later."

She continued, "We have all been touched by these great sacrifices and by the suffering it has brought to fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, spouses and friends. We continue to lose American heroes every day in Afghanistan and in military training accidents and missions around the world -- this is why Memorial Day is so important."

"We don't just honor those with the highest medals, or even those who participated in the most hellacious fights. We honor each and every one of the more than one million men and women that have lost their lives defending America in war from the Revolution to the global war on terrorism."

In Fort Plain, the annual Memorial Day parade began at the Harry Hoag Elementary School, where the Fort Plain VFW, Fort Plain Marching Band, village officials, local departments and rescue agencies, Fort Plain T-Ball, and Senator Cecilia Tkaczyk, made their way into the sunny Fort Plain Cemetery, where a large crowd gathered to hear speeches, a reading of "In Flanders Fields", a prayer, a 21 gun salute and a performance of TAPS, prior to making their way downtown, where they paraded down Main St., around Haslett Park and to the VFW, where the day's events concluded with continued reverence and refreshments.

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OESJ Elementary/Middle School Memorial Day paradeSt. Johnsville Memorial Day 2014Fort Plain Memorial Day 2014

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