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DeWitt veteran’s poem memorialized inside Syracuse VA Hospital

Mel Rubenstein (center left) and Fred Talbot (center right) remove the cover to reveal the plaque that bears Talbot’s poem, “Our Sworn Duty,” at the VA Hospital on Nov. 8. They are surrounded by DeWitt Rotarians, including Congressman Dan Maffei.

Mel Rubenstein (center left) and Fred Talbot (center right) remove the cover to reveal the plaque that bears Talbot’s poem, “Our Sworn Duty,” at the VA Hospital on Nov. 8. They are surrounded by DeWitt Rotarians, including Congressman Dan Maffei. Allie Wenner

— When Rubenstein finished a rough draft of the book, he asked Talbot, a World War II combat veteran, to read it over. A few days later, Talbot presented Rubenstein with a copy of the manuscript, along with the poem, which he wrote especially for the book.

“I thought it was quite a poem,” Rubenstein said. “Very simplistic, and every time I read it, it means something to me.”

After the book was published, Rubenstein said he began receiving positive comments – and that many of them were about Talbot’s poem.

“Knowing there were a limited number of my books in circulation, I soon realized that this poem should be on permanent display where veterans could see it,” he said.

Rubenstein was in the VA Hospital for an appointment when he realized it was the perfect place for the poem: a place where hundreds of veterans pass through every day. He met with the DeWitt Rotary Club members to see if they’d be interested in taking on the project – they were on board, and the rest is history.

Rubenstein said he hopes that the younger generation, in particular, will take the opportunity to read his book, because they have never had to live through the draft, which was revoked in 1973.

“So many younger people are younger and have a disconnect with military service – they don’t have to serve, they don’t have children who serve and it’s important to keep the memory alive of what veterans do,” he said.

The nineteen accounts in the book come from Caucasians and African-Americans: from professors, businessmen, engineers and businessmen – all local Syracuse-area veterans. It is available on amazon.com.

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