Veterans of Foreign Wars Downriver Post 7487 and American Legion C.C. Kenney Lewiston Post 1083 presented their annual Memorial Day observance Monday at the “Circle of Honor” monument inside Lewiston’s Academy Park. VFW Cmdr. Bill Justyk served as master of ceremonies, while Assemblyman Angelo Morinello was the guest speaker. Scout Troop 824 performed a flag-folding ceremony and patriotic music was performed.
Assemblyman Angelo Morinello
Morinello said, in part, “I was in combat in Vietnam. I'm one of the fortunate ones – I returned. I returned unscathed physically; maybe a little mentally disturbed from what I saw. But my comrades – they didn't make it back. That's what we're here for today.
“Many people believe that Memorial Day is the beginning of the summer, the beginning of the holiday season. It's about picnics; it's about hot dogs; it's about the American dream. But let's not forget how we got there. Let's not forget that those that gave their lives in every single conflict that this country experienced gave their lives so that those of us today – my parents’ generation, my generation and the next generation – has the ability to speak out, has the ability to enjoy family, has the ability to enjoy friendships.
“America was built on the belief that every person was created equal, regardless of our endless diversities. It is this principle that men and women of the armed forces bravely protect. In fact, our armed forces are made up of men and women whose backgrounds span the entire spectrum of human experience. This is what they bring with them when they leave their homes, their families, their children, their parents, and go off into foreign lands – lands that they may have heard about in school, but never dreamed they would see. And why did they do this? It was being selfless. They did not want the American dream – that which we were brought up with – to fade away.
“And yet, one of the most honorable ways to memorialize anything is through our private thoughts and our public actions. Ronald Reagan once said, ‘And if words cannot repay the debt we owe these men and women, surely with our actions we must strive to keep faith with them and with the vision that led them to battle and to final sacrifice.’
“It is our job to honor the sacrifices made by our military heroes, and live each day as proud Americans; not just on Memorial Day.
“This crowd today is really touching. But let's think back to the day that this was dedicated (Veterans Day 2019). The snow was coming sideways, yet this park was full; and it shows respect.
“Today is a day to remember. When you leave here, you're going to go to your families; you're going to go to your homes, the parks; you're going to go to the lakes and rivers and enjoy. But I challenge each and every one of you that, at least one or two days other than Memorial Day, think about the sacrifices that are giving you that freedom.”
Veterans of Foreign Wars Downriver Post 7487 Cmdr. Bill Justyk