HORICON - With balmy weather prevailing, nearly 300 people gathered Sunday in the hamlet of Adirondack, joining the family of Jeremiah Monroe - who was killed eight months ago in Afghanistan - to dedicate a park in his name.
V.F.W. Post 5513 Commander Ron Robert introduced post Chaplain Lou Russo who gave the opening prayer in the ceremony to dedicate the Jeremiah Monroe Veterans Memorial Park. Along with Boy Scout Troop 30 members, Robert led the Pledge of Allegiance and welcomed the many people present to the dedication ceremony for the new memorial.
About a year ago the Adirondack Honor Roll was erected in memory of World War II veterans. Now with the new park, all veterans are honored, particularly those who sacrificed their lives defending their nation, Robert said.
"This is now a memorial for all veterans of all wars and especially for those who didn't come home," he said.
The family of Jeremiah Monroe joined Roberts for the unveiling of the memorial plaque honoring Jeremiah, who was an Army private.
Red carnations, donated by Becky's Bloomers, were presented to the family members - who approached the memorial plaque, imbedded in a boulder. Each of Jeremiah's relatives bore a red carnation, as the memorial was unveiled from underneath a black drape.
Horicon Supervisor Ralph Bentley observed about how Horicon, like other towns in the North Country, has a strong sense of community, and how the park provides an appropriate, serene place for people to gather, reflect on soldiers' sacrifices, and recall those who have passed on.
Bentley introduced U.S. Rep. Scott Murphy (D-Glens Falls) who related that soon after taking office last year a good friend of his lost a sister in the conflict. He accompanied the family to Dover Air Force Base when her body was brought back stateside. He said he then realized the enormity of his responsibilities as a Congressman to make the right decisions in behalf of all the people. He presented a flag that had flown over the Capital to Delores Monroe, Jeremiah's mother.
"Jeremiah will always be in our minds and our hearts," Murphy said.
State Senator Betty Little remarked on the special significance of Memorial Day, as it gathers all veterans and citizens in honoring the soldiers who did not return from battle. She said that this beautiful memorial will help Jeremiah's family and all of us. She also has a son serving on an aircraft carrier and she prays each day that she will remain a Blue Star mother, not a Gold Star mother, a designation for one who has lost a son or daughter in the line of duty.
Chris Gibson, Retired Army Colonel and Brigade Commander of the 82nd Airborne,aid that there's a special place called "Valhalla" where heroes go to rest, and Jeremiah is already there and that we should celebrate what he lived for.
"Jeremiah laid down his life so we may live free," he said.
Town of Chester Supervisor and Warren County Chairman Fred Monroe said it was fitting to dedicate the memorial on Memorial Day weekend to honor Jeremiah Monroe and remember the sacrifices of other U.S. service personnel. "We owe them all a debt that we cannot repay," he said.
Supervisor Bentley thanked all the veterans attending for their service to our country and for making this a special day for the dedication of the memorial park. Besides the local V.F.W. Post 5513 and American Legion Post 964 members, other officials of regional veterans groups attended. These representatives included: Donald Essenter, Commander of the Hudson-Mohawk Counties Council of V.F.W.; Warren County Commander Joe Cattablaine; and Dawn Grant, 4th District President of the American Legion Auxiliary for Warren County.
Gold Star Mother Maryellen Jackowski, of Chestertown also attended. Her son was killed many years ago in the conflict in Beirut.
American Legion Post 964 Commander Joanne Ellsworth said during the ceremony she visited the Jeremiah Monroe Memorial Park Saturday night for some inspiration. She said that the brook adjacent to the park and beautiful night provided a sense of serenity, in contrast to the solemn patriotic pageantry and receptive crowd on Sunday. She said that the park should be appreciated for all it stands for.
Horicon resident Lindsay Meade, a Junior at North Warren High, sang "Proud to Be An American" to a very appreciative audience after which Lou Russo gave the closing prayer.
The joint efforts of the V.F.W. Post 5513 and American Legion Post 964 in presenting the dedication ceremony, along with the true Adirondack small-town spirit, proved once again the slogan emblazoned on the ceremony program, as well as engraved in the hearts of North Country residents: "We Shall Never Forget Our Veterans' Sacrifices."