PLATTSBURGH - It started with a simple dedication of a flagpole at Pine Harbour Assisted Living and blossomed from there.
"I'm amazed at how quickly this dedication grew," said executive director Raeanne McLaughlin.
What was to be a small gathering at the New Hampshire Road facility on Flag Day, turned out to be one with special guest speakers, including the Rev. Norm Mesel of Turnpike Wesleyan Church and City Mayor Donald M. Kasprzak.
Daniel Kaifetz, owner of Adirondack Flagpoles in Keeseville - who donated the flagpole and American flag with assistance from a member of Turnpike Wesleyan Church - was taken back as he presented the donation. Kaifetz, a former U.S. Marine, turned to veterans in the audience and thanked them for answering the nation's call to arms.
"Gentlemen, your service to your country really did make a difference," said Kaifetz.
Not forgetting the women left behind during the nation's earlier wars, Kaifetz then turned to thank the veterans' spouses.
"Sometimes the hardships of military service are not borne by the soldiers alone," he said.
The flag donated had special meaning, said Kaifetz. It was an interment flag from Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C., which was meant for a soldier who lost his life fighting the War on Terror in Iraq. However, when the soldier was laid to rest, no next of kin was there to accept the flag on his behalf.
"There was not a single person present at his burial to receive his flag. It kind of breaks your heart," he said.
William Kivett, formerly of Peru, was among the Pine Harbour residents there to witness the dedication. Kivett, a veteran of the U.S. Navy who served with the Seabees, said he was touched by the donation and the presence of several school children from Keeseville Elementary School for the event.
"It felt really good," Kivett said of seeing children at the event. "It's always nice to see the kids coming out for things like this and being taught these things. I thought it was pretty special."
Though he didn't see any combat while serving during the time of the Korean War, Kivett said he would've been ready to answer his nation's call no matter where the road would have led.
"Wherever they sent me, I went," he said. "I didn't do anything other than what I was asked to do."
Kasprzak, whose own father served during the Korean War, said he was proud of both his father's service and of the service of those like the veterans of Pine Harbour.
"I can tell you right here today that I am so proud to be right here in all of your presence," said Kasprzak. "Without your efforts, your dedication, all of you here, we would not have the freedoms we have today."