Solemn traditional ceremony marks Saugerties’ Memorial Day

The firing squad fires a volley at the close of the program. (Photos by David Gordon)

Jim Gage

Thomas Austin, Isaac W. Vargas, Caesar Varis, William H. Varis, John C. Bolton, Neil Bradley …  The list of names went on: And on. The names of 82 Saugertesians who died in the Civil War was followed by the names of Saugertesians who died in the two world wars.

It took former commander Jim Gage more than ten minutes to read the entire list.

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The reading on Thursday, May 30 was part of the traditional Memorial Day commemoration at the Lamouree-Hackett American Legion Post 72. It was the traditional date for Memorial Day. 

A selection of patriotic and popular music performed by the Saugerties Community Concert Band, directed by Richard Rose, preceded the ceremony. The ensemble provided the theme songs of the various services as members came forward and the musical background for the reading of the names of those who died in the nation’s wars and other spots during the ceremony.

Poppy girl Jenna Pitt handed out small American flags and, accompanied by the Auxiliary president Cynthia Babb, carried a wreath to the tomb of the unknown in the park at the Legion’s building.

Richard Rose conducting the Saugerties Community Concert Band.

In his opening prayer, deacon Hank Smith of St. Mary of the Snow and St. Joseph’s Catholic churches, said the gathering was to “remember those who loved us so much that they served in our armed forces and gave their lives.”

Bill Payne

Bill Payne offered a historical view of the nation’s conflicts and a brief history of the Lamouree-Hackett Post. Noting that “The Great War” began with the assassination in 1914 of the Archduke of Serbia, Payne told how the Allies — Britain, France and Russia — faced the Central Powers — Germany and Italy. Later, Turkey and others joined the Central Powers, and Italy, Japan and Belgium joined the Allies.

Americans wanted to stay out of the war at first, Payne said. But the sinking of the British liner, the Lusitania, with more than 100 Americans on board, and the “Zimmerman telegram,” which, in 1917 proposed an alliance between Germany and Mexico, drew this country into the war.

 In this war, women participated in the armed services, primarily in such roles as nurses and support staff, Payne said.

America suffered 53,402 combat deaths, Payne said. Disease brought down another 52,000-plus Americans.

The American Legion was formed in Pari, immediately after the armistice, Payne said. “African-American troops attended that first meeting, and after the troops came home the Legion was organized across the country.”

“Our post had its first meeting in July of 1919 in the town clerk’s office where the soldiers and sailors of Saugerties met to form the American Legion post. The name of the post reflects the names of two of the 53 local men who died in World War I. “This year, we are celebrating our post centennial in October to mark the month when the last great battle, the Argonne offensive in which they died in France, ended.”

Adelbert Lamouree, one of the two veterans whose name is on the post, was born in February, 1893 in Palenville, and died in France on October 17, 1918. His body is buried in the Somme American Cemetery in France. He trained in Camp Wadsworth in South Carolina, Payne said, and he belonged to a New York National Guard unit. Lamouree “served in all the battles the 105th [Infantry] was engaged in, and was killed in the last battle, on October 17, 1918. He had achieved the rank of corporal.”

Poppy girl Jenna Pitt, 12, with Auxiliary member Eileen Weaver, places flowers on the tomb of the unknown.

Corporal Patrick Hackett was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Michael Hackett of Ulster Avenue in Saugerties, Payne said. “In a letter published in the Saugerties Telegraph newspaper on February 4, 1919, was written by his military chaplain, Fr. Thomas Dunne, of the 306th Infantry of the 77th division – the Statue of Liberty Division, my grandfather served in that division. Father Dunne said they were together on the morning of September 26, 1918, and a 5:30 a.m. he [Hackett] went over the top in the famous Argonne Woods. Twenty feet from the chaplain, Patrick was wounded, his left hand blown off completely and another wound about five inches long and three inches deep. The priest administered last rites on the field, and heard Patrick’s last words.” 

Payne concluded, “For us [veterans], every day is Memorial Day.”

The American Legion Post, along with its Auxiliary and the Sons of the American Legion provided five $500 scholarships to local students. Recipients are Daniel Ball, who will attend SUNY Oneonta; Francis Fitzgerald, who will attend Northeastern University; Hilary Mulford, who will attend Cornell University or SUNY College of Environmental Science; Jaclyn Murphy, who will attend SUNY Cortland; and Corey Spallino, who will attend SUNY New Paltz.

The auxiliary also presented scholarships to Emily Schirmer and Kyle Hartrum.

Post chaplain Paul Peyser offered a homily.

Paul Peyser, the post chaplain, closed the ceremony with a prayer: “Today we gather to honor the memory of those who served, fought, suffered and paid the ultimate price for the freedom of others.” He said the gathering was to “pay tribute to our departed and valiant comrades. Grant that we may ever be mindful of the service to God and country, and of our comradeship with them in the ranks of the American Legion.”

Following the ceremony, the Legion’s small museum was opened to the public. Payne, the museum curator, pointed out a new exhibit under construction by Eagle Scout Logan Martin. The small room that will house it is in the midst of renovations that will be necessary before it can be installed. Logan and Bob Chappelle have been cleaning up the room in preparation for the diorama depicting the Battle of the Bulge.

This is the post’s centennial year. Plans for later this year include a dinner on October 16, a parade on October 19, and a post open house on October 20.

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