By Jennifer L. Warren
POUGHKEEPSIE – Anthony Kavouras feels it every time he glances at the black Memorial Bracelet with insignia white-hued names on his right wrist. Jerry Ingram is overcome by it visiting his son’s gravesite. It’s an inexplicable mix of emotions: Gratitude, pain, strength, large doses of pride and so much more, and it enveloped the Dutchess County War Memorial site Friday morning.
Here, over 100 people turned out to pay tribute to local, as well as all veterans, each making the ultimate sacrifice, so we can enjoy the freedoms we do today. They were everyday people who Dutchess County Executive, Marc Molinaro, was quick to cite as “heroes,” true patriots who have set the standard for all of us.
Many of those brave men and women dotted the perimeter of the site, while others sat, as Adam Roche (USMA), Dutchess County Veteran’s Services Director welcomed guests to the Annual Ceremony. A symbolic presentation of colors by the Poughkeepsie High School JROTC, patriotic Pledge of Allegiance-led by Scout Troop 3055, and moving rendition of the National Anthem provided by Kirsten Del Vecchio followed. Then there was a powerful Wreath Presentation by Dutchess County Government, Deputy County Executive, Bill O’Neill with Taps played by Oliver Maxson.
Following were some remarks by newly re-elected United States Congressman and veteran, Pat Ryan.
“Being here today is very meaningful; I’m happy the first thing I’m doing in this role is at an event like this,” said Ryan. “This is always a great day of reflection, and one when I think of my comrades who didn’t come home.”
That sharp sense of sacrifice and loss was further touched upon by Pastor Michael Grazioso of the Full Gospel Center in Lagrangeville, who read some Biblical verses on a soldier.
“A soldier puts himself in harm’s way to protect people,” said Grazioso. “Today, we want to say thank you to all of those for protecting a multitude of people.”
One of those soldiers, Kavouras, a veteran who served for 34 and-a-half years as well as the Director of MHA Veterans Programs, spoke about the magnitude of the day.
“For me, Veteran’s Day has always been about my brothers and sisters who never came back, the ones we lost,” said Kavouras, who also spoke about the Memorial Bracelet he wears in their honor. “They were the ones who were on my “6,” to my right, to my left, and we all protected one another through the worst of times; Veteran’s Day is for them.”
Ingram, an Army Veteran and member of VFW Post 170 in Poughkeepsie, whose son Cory recently lost his life while in Navy active duty, carried on the strong, military family tradition, one close to Ingram’s heart.
“It was a true honor to serve our country,” said Ingram about his and his son’s service.
And it’s in that very spirit, that Molinaro emphasized the dire need to never forget our veterans.
“We must still do more to invest in veterans as they come home,” affirmed Molinaro.
“Whether it’s access to jobs or housing or anything else, we have to make a more robust commitment to those who sacrificed so much for us.”