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Massena remembers veterans with parade, ceremony


MASSENA - On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month the sounds of a 21-gun salute and Taps echoed through the air as the Massena community remembered its veterans.

“On this date, Veterans Day, we are commemorating the services of all veterans,” said Amvets Post 4 Commander James Gardner, who led Monday’s ceremony inside the Massena Fire Station.

Massena’s observance began with a parade featuring members of the local military service organizations marching or riding from American Legion Post 79 on East Orvis Street to the fire station. Between 15 and 20 bystanders stood on the sidewalks along Main and Andrews streets and applauded them as, led by a representative from the Massena Police Department, they walked or drove by.

A larger crowd was gathered inside the fire station for the ceremony, which included a 21-gun salute by members of the Amvets Post 4 Rifle Squad and the playing of Taps by Bernie Hazelton.

It was a time to remember those who had served throughout the history of the United States, Mr. Gardner said.

“We remember how men and women set aside their civilian pursuits to serve their nation’s cause, defending the freedom of mankind and preserving our precious American heritage,” he said.

Once a veteran, always a veteran, the Amvets commander said.

“We recognize service to our country, but her cause does not end with the termination of military service,” Mr. Gardner said. “We continue our endeavors on behalf an honorable world peace with a feeling of profound gratitude to God and to the men and women who served their country as their part of the cost of the noblest of causes.”

Veterans Day marks the anniversary of the end of World War I. Major hostilities were formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, when the Armistice with Germany into effect.

Mr. Gardner said that World War I was supposed to be the “war to end of all wars,” but that wasn’t the case.

“Nevertheless we know that our world is safer, freer and more peaceful today thanks to all the vigilance and resolve of our armed forces,” he said. “The triumph of democratic ideals in eastern Europe and other parts of the world provides powerful evidence that their sacrifices were not made in vain.”

And there have been sacrifices over the many years, Mr. Gardner said.

“The Bible tells us that no greater love has a man than to lay down his life for a friend. Our nation’s military veterans are brave and selfless individuals who, when duty called, were willing to put themselves in harm’s way to defend the lives and liberty of others,” he said.

“Each November 11 we pause with solemn pride and heartfelt gratitude to honor this special group of Americans. A sacrifice they have made for our sake and indeed for the sake of millions of freedom-loving men around the world can never be forgotten. It is fitting that we pause on the anniversary of Armistice Day, a day of peace and celebration, to honor America’s veterans and to express our gratitude for their courage and sacrifice,” he said.

U.S. President Woodrow Wilson first proclaimed Armistice Day for November 11, 1919. Congress approved an amended act on June 1, 1954, “Armistice” with “Veteran’s,” and it has been known as Veteran’s Day since.

Although originally scheduled for celebration on November 11 of every year, starting in 1971 Veteran’s Day was moved to the fourth Monday of October. In 1978, it was moved back to its original celebration on November 11.

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