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The Times
  • Appreciation Day to welcome veterans throughout region

  • Organizers of the upcoming Veterans Appreciation Day met Wednesday evening to finalize plans for the 13th annual event that is slated to take place next weekend.

    The theme of this year’s observance, which will take place at American Legion Post No. 920 at 59 E. Clark St. in Ilion on Saturday, Sept. 15, from noon to 5 p.m., is “Veterans and Gold Star Families.”

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  • Organizers of the upcoming Veterans Appreciation Day met Wednesday evening to finalize plans for the 13th annual event that is slated to take place next weekend.
    The theme of this year’s observance, which will take place at American Legion Post No. 920 at 59 E. Clark St. in Ilion on Saturday, Sept. 15, from noon to 5 p.m., is “Veterans and Gold Star Families.”
    “It will be interesting to hear what the Gold Star Mothers have to say,” committee member Ron Sterling said Wednesday. “When a person loses a spouse they are called a widow and when a person loses a parent they are called an orphan, but there is no word to describe a parent that loses a child. The loss they feel is like no other. The Gold Star Mothers approached us to talk about this loss.”
    “There won’t be a dry eye in the audience,” added committee member Debbie Sterling. “Tears are shed every year, but this year, with the Gold Star Mothers speaking, I’m sure there will be more.”
    Michael Sportello will be master of ceremonies for the 1 p.m. memorial service that will honor all veterans and their families. The guest speakers will be Gold Star Mothers. Area veterans, law enforcement officials, firefighters, former prisoners of war and local politicians will also participate.
    Representatives from the Veterans’ Administration will be on site to answer questions and enroll veterans for medical benefits. The Red Cross will also have representatives in attendance, and the Fallen Star Memorial, a tribute to servicemen and women who have died in Iraq or Afghanistan, will be on display. Music will be played all afternoon and free food and beverages will be available for all.
    “It’s an event to recognize all of our veterans and their families for the sacrifices they’ve made,” said Ron Sterling. “This type of event should have started in the Mohawk Valley 50 years ago.”
    A member of American Legion Post No. 38 in Herkimer, Ron Sterling said he and his brother, Don, a member of American Legion Post No. 920, attended a similar event in Boonville years ago.
    “That event was for Vietnam veterans only. So when my brother and I got home, we asked ourselves why couldn’t we do something for all veterans. That was about 14 years ago,” he said. “We started this appreciation day the very next year and have been continuing to organize it ever since.”
    Members of American Legion Post No. 616 in Richfield Springs assist in planning the event.
    “It’s a great day for veterans from all conflicts and all branches of services to get together and share stories, talk with one another and enjoy an afternoon of food and drinks,” said Debbie Sterling. “It’s always a fun time for the veterans who attend and it’s always great to see veterans and their families come back year after year. It’s an event that I hope will continue for many more years.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Any area veteran needing a ride to the American Legion for Veterans Appreciation Day on Sept. 15 is asked to call Ron Sterling at 868-6412 or Legion Post No. 920 at 894-8128.

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