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Amenia honors its veterans

AMENIA — The morning air was crisp and the day bright as residents gathered at Fountain Square in the heart of Amenia on Thursday, Nov. 11, to pay tribute to veterans past and present at the annual Veterans Day ceremony organized by the town.

“We honor our veterans for their service to our great nation,” said town Supervisor Wayne Euvrard, himself a veteran of the Vietnam War, having served in the Navy from 1967 to 1971. Euvrard said that today in the United States there are more than 24 million veterans, and that locally in Amenia there are 96 World War I veterans, 250 World War II veterans, 52 Korean War veterans, 68 Vietnam War veterans and 14 Desert Storm veterans.

Resident Kevin Cassone was at the ceremony; he said he attends to pay tribute to his father, who served in the Armed Forces.

“My father was a veteran and I always come here to honor his service,” Cassone said. “It’s wonderful the town does this and it’s nice people come out here. I would love to see even more people here.”

Attendance at the annual event is typically strong, and that consistency means a lot to VFW Post 5444 Sr. Vice Cmdr. Rick Butler, who leads the ceremony each year.

“It’s wonderful to see everyone out here,” he said. “Once again America is showing its appreciation for its veterans, young and old. Veterans Day is important because it’s to honor the sacrifices veterans made. They put aside their lives to answer the call for their country, and I think all generations should remember them.”

And that’s what those present at Fountain Square did during the ceremony — they sang, they prayed, they listened, they remembered and they expressed their gratitude for the millions of men and women who served their country to protect democracy around the world. Veterans in the crowd were recognized for their service, and when “God Bless America” was sung, everyone stood at attention and joined in with evident pride. Though the ceremony was relatively brief, it was poignant for those who participated and those who simply attended.

“We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the veterans,” said Ernest Casey of Dover Plains, chaplain of VFW Post 5444. “America wouldn’t be safe if it wasn’t for veterans.”

Before the close of the ceremony, local children from Webelos Pack 29 helped Butler lay a wreath at Fountain Square in memory of Amenia veterans who are no longer with us. Those veterans who were present saluted the moment, as did the youngsters themselves after laying the wreath.

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