Saugerties marks Veterans Day with memorial service

Past Post 72 Commander Jim Gage (left) and Deacon Hank Smith (right). Smith is offering an opening prayer. (Photos by David Gordon)

Auxiliary President Carolyn Mains placed a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown at Saugerties American Legion Post 72.

On the 11th hour of the 11th month of the year 1918, the armistice ending World War I was signed. While the day to remember that moment in history has had its message expanded to celebrate the sacrifices of veterans of all the wars this country has been engaged in, the date and hour — 11 a.m. on November 11 — is still the time and date of the event.

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This year, November 11 was a bright, sunny, though somewhat cold day, as more than 100 veterans gathered at the Lamouree-Hackett post of the American Legion on John Street in Saugerties for the annual memorial service. The short service consisted largely of patriotic music provided by the Saugerties Community band and homilies from Deacon Hank Smith of St. Mary of the Snow and St. Joseph Church and American Legion Chaplain Paul Peyser. Veterans gathered in the center of the building’s courtyard, Auxiliary President Carolyn Mains placed a wreath on the tomb of the unknown and the Legion’s firing squad fired a salute. The commemoration followed the traditional pattern. The Legion hall opened for snacks and a visit to the legion’s museum William Payne.

In his homily, Deacon Smith called for blessings on our veterans whom we “thank for all that we have; for all the things we are able to do in our lives, thank them for our lives and thank the veterans for all they’ve given us to make our country a great country.”

Past Commandeer Paul Peyser, now Post 72 Chaplain, offered a prayer: “Though it began as Armistice Day in 1918, celebrating the end of World War I, November 11 has been celebrated as Veterans Day in the United States since 1954,” Peyser said. “Many people celebrate the day with festivals and parades that honor the sacrifice and dedication of those who have served in the armed forces of the United States. There may be no better way to honor a veteran than in prayer,” he said.

Asking the participants to join him in prayer, Peyser said, “Thank you to all who served this country, governor of nations, we give thanks for the courage and dedication of all those who have offered military service for this country.”

Representatives of community organizations formed the color guard.

Peyser said that “on our behalf they have ventured into danger, were separated from their loved ones, labored long hours, borne hardship in war and in peacetime.”

“God bless our veterans, and God bless America,” Peyser concluded.

Deacon Smith offered the closing prayer, telling the many Americans who served in past wars, “I don’t know you. I wish I did.” After promising to pray for the unknown soldier’s safety, he said owe you for what you have missed in this life, and pray that you may feel God’s presence with you.”

Deacon Smith concluded with a wish that veterans “could feel God’s presence in your life today. I promise you that you have made a difference in our world. You’ve made our world a better place and we thank you.”

The Saugerties Community Band performed at the Veterans Day ceremony.

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