Under gorgeous blue skies, hundreds gathered Monday in Corning's Denison Park to pay tribute to fallen soldiers - and all who've served. One of many Memorial Day observances across the area, it may have marked the beginning of a new tradition in the Crystal City.
Under gorgeous blue skies, hundreds gathered Monday in Corning’s Denison Park to pay tribute to fallen soldiers - and all who’ve served.
One of many Memorial Day observances across the area, it may have marked the beginning of a new tradition in the Crystal City.
“We’re here to take a moment to come together as a community and say ‘thank you’ to each and every service member who gave that last full measure of devotion to our country, so that the United States of America will forever be free,”
U.S. Rep. Tom Reed told the crowd during the Memorial Day celebration.
It was a new event that took the place of the Memorial Day parade through the city which has been held for many years.
It began with the presentation of colors by an American Legion Color Guard, the Pledge of Allegiance, an invocation by Father Lou Brown, and remarks by local elected officials.
“Thank you for being here to honor our veterans and those who’ve made the ultimate sacrifice so we can enjoy the freedoms that we hold so dear,” said Assemblyman Phil Palmesano.
Palmesano did a somber reading of the names of soldiers from Steuben County who’ve lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan - Marine Gunnery Sgt. Shawn Lane, Army Sgt. Christopher Pusateri, Marine Lance Cpl. Zachary Smith, Marine Lance Cpl. Michael Plank, Army Spc. Devin Snyder, and Army Spc. Ryan Jayne.
He also took a moment to honor Pusateri’s wife, Christine, and Snyder’s mother, Dineen Snyder, who were in attendance Monday.
“Thank you so much for the sacrifice your loved ones made for us,” Palmesano told them as the crowd applauded.
Sen. Tom O’Mara singled out some of the Vietnam War veterans who were on hand.
“We recall a dark time in our country, roughly 40 years ago, when our veterans didn’t get the respect and honor and praise they deserved - those returning from Vietnam,” O’Mara said. “That is an era we must never, ever forget.”
Corning Mayor Rich Negri quoted the famous war poem “In Flanders Field” and reflected on the symbolism of poppies.
After the opening ceremony, folks milled about, looking at tributes, historical displays and military vehicles set up by veterans’ organizations.
There was live music by Quentin Harriger as well as the Corning Area Community Concert Band, and plenty of fun stuff for the kids, too - the Corning Fire Department blew up balloons and gave them away; there were inflatables to play on; and there were free hot dogs and cotton candy.
Monday’s event was coordinated by the Corning American Legion, Italian American War Veterans and Crystal City VFW Post 524, as well as the City of Corning, Corning’s Gaffer District and the Bath VA.
The park events are a bit more interactive than a parade, said Corning City Councilwoman Hilda Lando. The plan is to make it an annual event, Lando said.
According to Tony Maio, who chaired the organizing committee, the event goes beyond honoring fallen soldiers, and is meant to honor all veterans, active service members and the loved ones that support them.