Nov 15, 2011 Jason Emerson Uncategorized
Nearly 80 local residents, numerous area veterans and school children gathered at Shotwell Park this past Veterans Day, surrounded by nearly 150 American flags planted in the ground, to give tribute to American veterans.
It was the second consecutive year the Skaneateles Girls Lacrosse Association sponsored the commemoration.
“It’s just a way for us to honor the veterans, and we’ve been overwhelmed by the community response,” said SGLA member Mary Gaffney. “The village has completely embraced it. It’s amazing how many people have come up and said they were touched by it.”
“I’m very glad they’re doing this,” said Sgt. David Spearing, a Skaneateles resident, member of the Air Force from 1965-69 and father of Army Specialist Betsy Spearing Casey. “It’s a very nice tribute to living as well as passed vets.”
Local residents may have noticed the 137 flags flying all of the previous breezy week in Shotwell Park near the flagpole in preparation for the event.
The 3- by 5-foot flags were sold by the SGLA as a fundraiser for the organization and for the local American Legion Post 239. Local residents could purchase a flag for $40 and raise it in the park, labeled in honor of a veteran, or could pay $20 to use a flag from last year’s event.
At the Nov. 11 event, members of the Skaneateles High School Lacrosse team gathered near the central Shotwell Park flagpole and began the commemoration by leading the attendees in singing the “Star-Bangled Banner.”
It was a cold, windy morning, and large, wet snowflakes had fallen for the 30 minutes prior to the start of the ceremony; but as soon as the lacrosse team started singing the sun broke through the clouds.
Vietnam veteran John Moran was the emcee for the event.
Captain Rhona Prescott, a nurse in the Vietnam War, was the featured speaker. She told the audience of her experiences with wounded and dying soldiers, the strength and bravery she witnessed, and said, “You can never say our American soldiers do not have what it takes.”
Lieutenant Colonel Brad McLennan, Second Vice Commander of the Skaneateles American Legion Post 239, briefly spoke, and thanked everyone present for their support. “It means a lot to the veterans, the spouses and the family members,” he said.
Skaneateles poet Mary Gardner then read her original poem, “Whispers,” and the girls of the Skaneateles lacrosse team then read all the names attached to each flag honoring a veteran.
Rev. Toppie Bates, assistant rector of St. James’ Episcopal Church, offered a prayer, and the ceremony ended with the lacrosse team leading attendees in the singing of “America the Beautiful.”
“This has been a great opportunity because it’s in honor of all veterans and I think it makes them happy,” said lacrosse team member Claudia Morris. Teammate Gabby Scuderi agreed, and said the entire process was “lots of fun.”
When the memorial service was over, Gaffney presented a donation of $250 to Lt. Col. McLennan for the American Legion. He said no decision has been made yet for the money’s use, but it will probably be forwarded to a special veterans’ organization.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Skaneateles Press. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican and Eagle Bulletin newspapers.