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Memorial Day 2021

The Millerton News Editorial

Commemorating Memorial Day during the era of the COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t been easy for the Harlem Valley. Last year, 2020, during the height of the health crisis, not all of our towns and villages even held their annual traditional ceremonies for fear of spreading the highly contagious and potentially fatal respiratory virus among its residents. Those communities that did hold events held extremely abbreviated ones, requiring face masks and social distancing and limiting the number of people who could attend. Memorial Day is a solemn holiday to begin with; commemorating it in the midst of a global pandemic is even more so.

This year Memorial Day fell on May 31, 2021. The United States is thankfully seeing its number of daily reported coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths drop in most states, including here in New York. 

As reported last week, Dutchess County is among those counties in the Empire State where active cases have lessened. As of Tuesday, June 1, the Dutchess County Department of Behavioral & Community Health reported it’s monitoring 140 active cases in the county and confirmed there are four total individuals hospitalized in Dutchess County with a confirmed case of COVID-19, as reported by the three hospitals. That is indeed wonderful and encouraging news — for more reasons than we can even begin to lay out in a single editorial.

One reason, though, is that our collective improved health has allowed communities throughout the Harlem Valley to properly remember and thank the many hundreds of thousands of men and women who so valiantly served in the Armed Forces but tragically died in battle since the Revolutionary War ended; hundreds of thousands more have sadly died from non-combat related causes.

Troops who served — regardless of their branch of military — regardless of when and where they served — and truly regardless of whether they ever saw battle — stepped forward to serve their country — our country — to protect each and every one of us. Many of them did not make it back home. For that, we owe them our sincerest gratitude.

We are so pleased that our Harlem Valley towns and villages and all of those who live here lent their support to our American Legions and VFWs as they once again organized their traditional Memorial Day ceremonies this year. Sure, even this year some of the activities might have been curtailed somewhat due to the pandemic, as the virus remains a threat and everyone’s priority continues to be to protect their communities. We certainly understand the concern and appreciate the actions organizers took to keep us all safe. 

What really made us smile this Memorial Day, though, was seeing so many folks come out to thank those veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice. We also want to thank the local families who lost brothers, fathers, husbands, wives, sisters and mothers, yet continue to hold on to their memories of those real-life heroes who never made it back. In serving, they ended up protecting what we have all come to know and love as our Harlem Valley home in the good ‘ole  US of A — the one country we can all count on to protect us at home and abroad while defending our fundamental American rights of liberty, free speech, freedom of religion, due process of law and freedom of assembly — rights not all other nations believe in or provide.

And to those veterans who blessedly did return from the many battlefields over the years, we have two simple but heartfelt words for you this Memorial Day and everyday: Thank you.

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