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On Memorial Day, Sackets Harbor salutes those who serve

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SACKETS HARBOR — Veterans, fallen soldiers and active duty military personnel were honored on Memorial Day with a music-filled parade, the release of dozens of golden balloons and a celebratory ceremony.

Sackets Harbor Central School’s Sentinels marching band led the parade down West Main Street, followed by the Sackets Harbor Fire Company. The procession ended in front of the village pavilion.

The Harold W. Townsend American Legion Post 1757 Auxiliary in Sackets Harbor handed out red paper poppies at the park. Auxiliary treasurer Joan G. Cumoletti greeted guests by saying “Good morning, would you like to wear a poppy?”

Along with the red paper flower, the auxiliary shared the story of the blossom’s significance to Memorial Day.

The poppy, which grew wild on the battlefields of Flanders, France, became a symbol of sacrifice during World War 1. Amid gunfire and wreckage, the red poppies continued to grow.

Mrs. Cumoletti said she’s been with the auxiliary for 25 years. She said she joined to show support for her late husband and to honor her son and other members of her family who have served in the armed forces.

Following the short parade, a memorial service was held at the pavilion.

Village Mayor Vincent J. Battista III said the community turnout showed members support the troops who have died, those who have come home and those who continue to fight overseas. He also officially declared May 26 as “Poppy Day.”

“Not only are we a grateful nation, we are a grateful society,” Mr. Battista said.

Mr. Battista was followed by Col. Reginald D. Sanders, deputy United States property and fiscal officer of the New York National Guard. Mr. Sanders and his wife and five children are former residents of Sackets Harbor.

“Today we set aside our own agendas and remember those who put others before themselves,” Mr. Sanders said.

He said the service of soldiers is one that cannot be matched by any other. He said the sacrifice of family members of soldiers and those who lost loved ones also cannot be measured.

Miss Jefferson County Poppy, Delaney E. Oliver, read from the famous poem “In Flanders Field.” Afterward, she asked “all citizens to pay tribute to our soldiers by wearing a memorial poppy on this day.”

The Fort Drum Survivor Outreach Services, an official Army program that provides long-term support to families of fallen soldiers, and the American Legion invited all surviving families to write the name of their fallen soldier on a golden balloon. Sackets Harbor American Legion Auxiliary President Jamie L. McGuire said organizers hope to turn the balloon release into an annual event. She said family members released more than 36 balloons on Memorial Day last year.

“As we gather in remembrance of all our fallen heroes, we also acknowledge your personal sacrifices and admire your strength,” Mrs. McGuire said. “We can’t return your loved ones to you, but they live on” in the hearts of all patriots.

“We come together, a gathering of families, mourners to honor our heroes,” Mrs. McGuire said. “Whether your life with us was a moment, hours or years, we remember and forever you live.”

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