Veterans Day dawned bright and balmy, perfect for a celebration of remembrance, appreciation, and the unveiling of a new monument in Gowanda.
A large crowd gathered on West Main Street last Sunday morning, Nov. 11, for the annual Veterans Day ceremony. This year, something special was added.
The Gowanda High School Band performs at the Veterans Day ceremony in Gowanda last Sunday morning. (Photo by Mary Pankow)
For weeks, those passing by Gowanda Free Library have seen a tarp-covered mound where the old Honor Roll once stood. On Nov. 11, everyone whose interest had been piqued would discover the answer to "what's under there?"
Before the unveiling, however, American Legion Post 409 Commander George Start welcomed the crowd and offered opening remarks on the origin of Veterans Day, formerly known as Armistice Day.
Commander Stark's comments were followed by a prayer, given by Rev. Joel Terragnoli of Collins Correctional Facility; a call to colors by bugler Bill Cain; and the Pledge of Allegiance, recited by all. Everyone was then treated to some rousing renditions performed by the Gowanda High School Marching Band, with the National Anthem being sung by the Brockport Environmental Club (who had come to Gowanda to hike in Deer Lick). Gowanda Mayor Heather McKeever and Village Trustee Dale DeCarlo presented Stark with a proclamation, and then the moment had come ... to see what was under that cover.
With Stark on one side, and Gowanda VFW Commander Tom Howard on the other, the new monument was revealed and history was made.
THE UNVEILING Under cover for weeks, Legion Commander George Stark, left, and VFW Commander Tom Howard unveil the new monument honoring veterans from all branches of the military service. (Photo by Mary Pankow)
Situated on the refurbished base, which now sports the seals of the five military branches - Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard - now rests a monument that is dedicated to all who have served or are serving in the military. Draped along its top is the etching of Old Glory, in all its red, white and blue splendor. Inscribed on the monument are these words: "In honor of those veterans who have sacrificed, served and are serving. All gave some, some gave all."
Thanks to Mark Schindler and Van Schirmer, the concept of the monument became a reality.
The Legion Commander then placed a wreath before the monument and the Honor Guard proceeded to fire three volleys, with Bill and Tom Cain both playing "Taps" on their bugles.
After the flag was raised to full staff, Stark thanked everyone for coming and exclaimed, "We live in a great country!"
A closing prayer by Rev. Terragnoli did not end the Veterans Day ceremony for everyone though. A number of people surrounded the new patriotic fixture in town, admiring the beauty of the memorial monument's craftsmanship and taking photos as family and friends posed next to it.
While Veterans Day is a special occasion, giving all an extra opportunity to thank veterans for what they've done to protect our freedom, Nov. 11, 2012 was especially poignant for Gowanda-area residents. The military, men and women, past and present, are forever represented by a monument that will always stand to remind citizens of the sacrifices made by others for freedom's sake.