WAPPINGERS FALLS, N.Y. -- A Veterans Day ceremony outside Wappinger Town Hall had it all Wednesday afternoon.
An Army R.O.T.C. unit from Marist College led the opening flag ceremony accompanied by dozens of local Girl Scouts, Brownies, Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts. Soloist Jennifer Propfe sang stirring renditions of the National Anthem, America the Beautiful and God Bless America.
Vincent Richards, retired from the 319th Army Band unit, played taps on his trumpet.
The keynote speaker was David Carrell of Poughkeepsie, a retired U.S. Army tank commander who is active in local efforts to assist veterans while completing his bachelor's degree in history at Vassar College. Carrell missed five Christmases with his wife and children during four deployments to Iraq that spanned 49 months.
Carrell noted that he enlisted in the military in 2001 and that his daughter was born the day before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks against the United States. Carrell's son was born shortly after he was sent to Kuwait in 2003. "I answered the call to serve our country,'' he said.
Carrell urged veterans from all wars to do all they can to assistt veterans who might currently be struggling with homelessness, depression, post-traumatic stress, addiction issues, inadequate health care or other unmet needs stateside.
And there were heartfelt speeches by Town of Wappinger Supervisor Barbara Gutzler; State Sen. Susan Serino, R-Hyde Park; Assemblyman Kieran Michael Lalor, R-East Fishkill; and U.S. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, D-Cold Spring; among other local officials.
Gutzler said we must "ensure their sacrifice was not made in vain." She asked the audience to also remember those who served the U.S. military in civilian capacity.
Congressman Maloney recounted how his father was seriously injured as a World War Ii veteran, but that a teenage girl wrote letters to him daily as he lay in a full body cast in a Navy hospital in Newport, R.I.
Maloney said his father explained that those letters helped him recover and gather the strength "to get up and marry that woman" who became his wife of 65 years. Maloney said that his mother's actions taught him that "we all have a role to play" in supporting veterans.
"Our veterans are special people,'' said Ralph J. Holt, recreation committee chairman and master of ceremonies. "They love our country. . . .They deserve our gratitude."
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