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Music teacher Eric Wiener leads the Webutuck Music Warriors in ‘My Country ‘Tis of Thee’—which historically used to be sung by the school choir—at the Memorial Day ceremony at Irondale Cemetery on Monday, May 29. Click here for more Memorial Day stories and photos. Photo by Deborah Maier

Millerton remembers fallen soldiers

MILLERTON —  “A beautiful celebration in this beautiful town” is how Millerton Police Department Chief Joseph Olenik described his first experience of the series of sites and ceremonies on a weather-perfect Monday, May 29, as people gathered to commemorate area residents who fought and sometimes died in faraway wars.

From the Millerton firehouse, the convoy of fire engines and some farm vehicles wove south and west, from the old blue church down Main Street/Route 44, eliciting cheers and applause from the hundred of attendees crowding the sidewalks. Children dashed into the street to gather handfuls of candies thrown from trucks.

Traffic on Route 22 was briefly halted as the procession made its way to the Irondale Cemetery, where Dr. Julian Strauss gave a benediction and veteran Sean Klay raised the flag with the help of young boy.  Three shots were fired into the air and taps was played first by student trumpeter Sebastian Melchor-Agustin then by Webutuck Central School District music teacher Eric Wiener.

Back at Veterans’ Park, Klay and Strauss performed the same duties, noting that this year, the village’s commemoration of veterans was the 135th “as far as we know,” dating back to 1888’s event—then called Decoration Day—led by the Grand Army of the Republic, formed after the Civil War. Strauss reminded listeners that for every warrior lost, there were mothers and children left behind, sometimes in dire straits.

Mayor Jenn Najdek’s official proclamation of the festivities was somewhat truncated by the 11 a.m. bells, and the community listened respectfully as Klay paid tribute to Robert Liner, whose links to Millerton were many, though he is buried in Sharon with his parents.

The Webutuck Music Warriors played “God Bless America” with a satisfying ending aided by the tuba. Bell-ringing for individuals lost in wars from World War II to the recent war on terror, and a touching roll call in which those present responded, and names of the recently deceased were read twice with dates of their passing noted, rounded out the official ceremony.   

As taps was played a final time, one of the band students collapsed, possibly due to ‘locked knee syndrome’ causing reduced blood circulation, according to EMT and coach Aaron Howard, though heat and a heavy instrument could have exacerbated that.  Those present attended to her and released the perimeter fencing to allow access to a stretcher.  The student was expected to recover fully.

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