By Jennifer L. Warren
NEWBURGH – The spot was both intentional and symbolic.
Last Monday, in front of a large crowd of supporters, at 605 Broadway in the City of Newburgh, the new office space for recently elected, redrawn 18th District Congressman, Patrick Ryan, officially opened its doors. Now joining locations in two other purposefully selected counties: Ulster and Dutchess, in addition to mobile access, the upper Broadway Newburgh locale provides closer in-person proximity for Ryan’s Orange County constituents.
“It’s really moving to have so many people here today, and to see this office and all that it represents,” said Ryan, as he surveyed the space outdoors. “There are people here from a whole lot of angles and perspectives, but it’s about what brings us together, your caring about the community and still believing in our democracy.”
One of those distinguished guests in attendance who was specifically cited by Ryan was Ralph Osterhoudt. A 97 year old, World War II veteran, who fought in The Battle of the Bulge, was awarded The French Medal of Honor, and is a Purple Heart recipient, Osterhoudt was one of the first Americans to enter the gates of Auschwitz after the end of the War and liberation of camp survivors. Still very active in community service and planning on again being a main attraction of sorts at The Hyde Park Fourth of July Parade, Osterhoudt is part of a military charity: Mended Swords.org, where he is carried on the shoulders of veterans during Sparta Races. That symbolism resonates with ideals close to Ryan’s heart: sacrifice, honor and patriotism. Ryan, a 2004 United States Military Academy Graduate, who went on to serve as a military intelligence officer, including two tours of Iraq, could not have been more proud and pleased to have this living military legend on hand at his new office opening. For Osterhoudt, the feelings were mutual.
“My main purpose is to represent a time in history, no matter where I go, because I’m always the only one left from my generation at these events, and want to remind young people how many soldiers have died and made sacrifices for their freedom.” He added about his connection with Ryan, “I just like and really believe in the guy from the moment I met him; I just know he will do good things for the country.”
Michael Speed, also a veteran, who runs Mended Swords along with Osterhoudt who he often assists, offered his unwavering support for the Senator as well as the newly opened Broadway doors access.
“We really need to stand behind our political leaders in this country,” said Speed. “We also need to stand behind our Constitution which is meant to bring us all together, not tear us apart.”
It’s that very unity and cooperation on all levels that Ryan too alluded to when offering remarks just prior to the office ribbon-cutting he jointly engaged in with Osterhoudt.
“Thank you for believing in me and our country and democracy; I feel the same weight and responsibility now as a Senator as when I took an oath as an officer at West Point,” said Ryan, who congratulated the incredible work, such as recovering owed tax monies, his still growing, talented and dedicated team has already accomplished in a short period of time.
“This office really looks beautiful; it’s just so amazing the way it has come to life.” Expressing more appreciation for the potent moment, the Senator added as he looked directly out to the energized crowd, “Please don’t make this the last time we see each other; we need your input and help, as I do what I do with great humility.”