Veterans who served in battles from WWII to Operation Enduring Freedom gathered at the Crossings in Colonie to honor those who gave their lives while fighting in foreign wars.
The Town of Colonie held its Memorial Day ceremony on Wednesday, May 21, at the Colonie Veterans Memorial. The memorial honors town residents who have served in any branch of the military. The 2,500-square-foot memorial was started in May of 2008 and unveiled in August of 2009.
The Rev. Charlene Robbins, a member of Gold Star Mothers, started the ceremony off with the invocation.
“We are gathered together to remember our servicemen and women, our sons and daughters, past and present, who have given their lives to protect the ideals on which America was founded,” said Robbins. “Thank you for those men and women in our military services who are willing to give their lives and those who gave their lives to fight to keep our country free.”
Several Colonie Town Board members were in attendance, and Supervisor Paula Mahan thanked the community for doing so much to honor those who served and those who continue serving.
“It’s hard as we sit here this evening not to be reminded of the many troops who are still fighting abroad in the name of freedom, and I know you will join me in wishing them a safe return. We’re very blessed to live in such a caring community. We have a lot of special events during this Memorial Day weekend so that we can give a proper recognition and honor those that have served for us,” said Mahan. “I think we’re all very proud of this ceremony here that has become a Colonie tradition. I hope this weekend you have some time to spend with your family and friends, that you have a safe weekend and have a little time to reflect on the true meaning of Memorial Day.”
Memorial Day has a special meaning to veterans who have been in battle and survived when others haven’t. Korean War veteran Robert Clingerman, who served in Korea as part of a heavy weapons company, said ceremonies, like the one in Colonie, help people to think about sacrifices veterans made.
“At least the average citizen is showing an appreciation for what the veterans have done over the years — I mean all the wars. I tell people once in a while that the United States needs to stop being the world’s policemen,” said Clingerman.
Clingerman, who is a member of the American Legion, said it’s important to get younger veterans to join the American Legion and similar groups.
Also attending the ceremony was David Chmielewski, who is a senior at Colonie Central High School. Chmielewski will be going to Marine boot camp at Paris Island in September after graduating in June.
Chmielewski said it has been his dream to join the Marines since he was 5 years old. As he plans for four years in the service, he has a different appreciation for the sacrifices made by veterans.
“It’s about paying our dues to people that have sacrificed and given their lives so we can have the values and freedoms we enjoy today — that we take for granted. I don’t think a lot of kids in my generation feel the need to do that,” said Chmielewski.