For at least half an hour before the official Veterans Day celebration started last Friday, the Saugerties Community Band played patriotic songs and the first comment from Master of Ceremonies Jim Gage was “how about that community band! We thank them for being here to help us celebrate our Veterans Day.”
The band, like the celebration as a whole, was smaller than it had been in the past, partly because of Covid and partly because of the prediction of heavy rain, which held off until the ceremony was over.
The Commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5034 Arin VanDemark joined Saugerties American Legion Post 72 Commander Raymond Teitter and former Commander Gage in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. VanDemark later recorded a message in the American Legion Post’s building.
Two local members of the Post were not present, Gage said: Art Russell and his son Matt were being honored in Kingston by the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars as the Veteran of the Month — the first time a father and son received the honor together, Gage said.
In his opening prayer, Chaplain Paul Peyser said the day honors “our worthy men and women who gave their best when they were called upon to serve to protect our country. We pray that you will bless them for their unselfish service in the continuing struggle to preserve our freedom, our safety, our country and our heritage for all of us.”
Following the traditional order of the ceremony, Auxiliary President Carolyn Mains placed a wreath on the tomb of the unknown.
In a special prayer, Rev. Peyser offered thanks for the men and women “who have offered military service for this country. For those who have fought for freedom, for those who have laid down their lives for others, for those who have known suffering of mind or of body, for those who have brought their best gifts in time of need, those who have endured separation from those they loved, labored long hours and borne hardships in war and in peacetime.” He asked for peace for those in pain and a guard for those in need or trouble and to “hold safely in your hands all military families and bring the returning troops to joyful reunions for a life at home.” Finally Rev. Peyser asked that the service people be looked after until such a day as war will end.
In keeping with another long tradition, the band played the songs of the various services and the veterans of each service came forward as the songs were played.
The benediction was offered by Rev. Peyser. The closing prayer was followed by three salutes from the firing squad and playing of Taps by John Gerace of the Saugerties Community Band.
The program was followed by snacks in the Legion Hall and a tour of the Legion Post Museum, conducted by curator Payne.