by Rachel Hunter
Remembering those who gave the ultimate sacrifice… The Gouverneur community gathered for the 2019 Gouverneur Memorial Day Observance on Monday, May 27, which was organized jointly by the Silas Wainwright VFW Pot No. 6338 in Gouverneur and the James Maloy American Legion Post No. 65 in Gouverneur. This year it was hosted by American Legion Post No. 65.
The parade marshal was the new American Legion Post No. 65 Commander Jason Carvel.
The parade commenced promptly at 10 a.m., and all were escorted down Main Street by Village of Gouverneur Chief of Police Laurina Greenhill in a Gouverneur Police Department apparatus, followed by St. Lawrence County Sheriff Kevin Wells. Traffic detail was handled by Chief Greenhill, Sgt. Jason Whitton, Sgt. Darren Fairbanks, Officer Alexander Daggett, Officer Jesse Sheen, Officer Nathan Sheen. The Village of Gouverneur Department of Public Work assisted in allowing the use of traffic cones and barricades. Also, New York State Police Trooper Brian Shippee and Trooper Carina Shelmidine also assisted in traffic detail along with school crossing guard/special police traffic John Kelley. Much gratitude is extended to these individuals for ensuring the safety of all during the annual Memorial Day Observance.
Leading the parade was the joint VFW Post 6338 and American Legion Post No. 65 color guard, which displayed the flags proudly as they marched down Main Street. Next in the parade line-up was the VFW Post 6338 Auxiliary including President Jeff Platt, Treasurer Sara Platt, Chaplain/Historian Marlene Webster and joined by Mike Webster of the Gouverneur VFW Post 6338 and Gold Star Mother Nancy Cappellino.
St. Lawrence County Legislators District 4 William Sheridan (R-Hammond) and District 5 Henry Leader (R-Gouverneur), Village of Gouverneur Mayor Ronald McDougall, Village of Gouverneur Deputy Mayor Charles Newvine, Village Trustee Troy Besaw, and Village Clerk/Treasurer Barbara Finnie, Town of Gouverneur Supervisor David Spilman, Jr., Town of Gouverneur Deputy Supervisor Eldon Conklin, and Town of Gouverneur Councilman Curran Wade joined the parade. Town of Fowler Supervisor Michael Cappellino was also in attendance at the observance.
Fire trucks from Gouverneur Fire Department and Richville Fire Department, an ambulance from the Gouverneur Rescue Squad and a couple military vehicles from Fort Drum also were entered into the parade to the delight of all those in attendance.
Local girl scout troops in addition to Gouverneur’s Cub Scout Pack 2035, Cub Scout Pack 21, and Boy Scout Troop 21 marched in the parade.
The American Legion Post No. 65 entered a float in the parade to honor America’s fallen soldiers, adorned in patriotic décor.
The Gouverneur Central School Marching Wildcats also joined the parade, performing
You’re A Grand Old Flag” under the direction of Victor Correa. The energetic music and the enthusiasm of the Gouverneur Wildcat mascot thrilled all those gathered.
Next in the parade-lineup was Joseph Wing of Gouverneur who serves the VFW Post No. 6338 Auxiliary, and also provides security detail around the Gouverneur community.
Bango Valley Percherons in Richville brought a horse-drawn wagon to the parade. The only Gouverneur business in the parade was an entry by MLS Equipment in Gouverneur, which showcased Ventrac all-wheel-drive compact tractors available for sale.
The parade paused for a moment over the Main Street bridge to present the U.S. Navy Wreath. The salute to the dead was presented by Michael Webster and Michael Knowlton. The conclusion of the parade was signaled with the appearance of a Gouverneur Police Department apparatus. All then made their way to the Riverside Cemetery in Gouverneur for the annual observance ceremony.
The Master Of Ceremonies was Gloria Weldon, former commander of the American Legion Post No. 65. The invocation was said by American Legion Ladies Auxiliary Chaplain Gloria Young. All then stood to recite the Pledge of Allegiance.
Master of Ceremonies Weldon then acknowledged all of the dignitaries who were invited to attend the observance, including NY State Senator (48th District) Patty Ritchie, NYS Assemblyman (116th District) Mark Walczyk, NYS Assemblyman (117th District) Ken Blankenbush, St. Lawrence County Legislator (District 4) William Sheridan, St. Lawrence County Legislator (District 5) Henry Leader, St. Lawrence County Legislator (District 6) Larry Denesha, St. Lawrence County Sherriff Kevin Wells, Village of Gouverneur Mayor Ron McDougall, Gouverneur Police Chief Laurina Greenhill, Gouverneur Chamber of Commerce Executive Donna Besaw, and Town of Gouverneur Supervisor David Spilman, Jr., Town of Gouverneur Deputy Supervisor Eldon Conklin, and other officials in the Village of Gouverneur and the Town of Gouverneur.
Master of Ceremonies Weldon then introduced retired Sergeant First Class (SFC) Eduardo Ramos as follows: SFC Eduardo Ramos joined the United States Marine Corps from February 1990 to May 1996 and served as Infantry Machine Gunner, Marine Security Force, and Marine Reconnaissance. After Ed Ramos completed his serves in the Marine Corps he joined the Army Reserves in May 1996 where he was part of the 101st Airborne Division Operations. In April of 1997 he entered Army active duty where he continued to serve with the 101st Airborne Division as an Infantryman. From February 2000 to August 2001 he was reassigned to Vicenza, Italy to the 173rd Airborne Brigade as an Airborne Infantryman. In August 2001 to June 2007 he was reassigned to the 10th Mountain Division. He was reassigned to Fort Benning, GA and served as Drill Sergeant from June 2007 till November 2011 when he was reassigned back to the 10th Mountain Division till March 2016. Once again, he was reassigned to the 174th Combine Arms Training Brigade in Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, in New Jersey where he assisted in the training and evaluating of National Guard units in the continental Northeast area from March 2016 till his retirement January 2018. He moved back to the North Country where he now resides in the town of Antwerp. His deployments include South America, Somalia, three trips to the Balkans (Bosnia, Kosovo), Haiti/Cuba, Saudi Arabia, and four deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq. Eduardo and his family continue to serve our community and our nation. He is an active member of the Gouverneur Volunteer Fire Department. His daughter is an active member of the Gouverneur Rescue Squad, and his two sons are currently serving – one in the United States Navy and the other in the United States Air Force.
A great applause sounded as the community welcomed SFC Ramos to the podium.
“It is a great honor and privilege to be up here in front of all you and pay tribute once again to our fallen,” he said. “Memorial Day to me is to celebrate the sacrifices of our soldiers, our American citizens that went and fought for the rights and privileges that we sometimes take for granted, but we love to have. From the Battle of Belleau Wood in World War I where the Marines got the best name ever, Devil Dogs… Semper fi, World War II Pearl Harbor where we called everybody to our nation. From the pacific battles, Iwo Jima, Midway, and to the beaches of France at Normandy, Omaha where we continue to fight.
“The North Country has been a great part of this, in this community. For example, Tyler Pickett from Antwerp and another one Chad Fuller from Potsdam. Chad Fuller was one of my soldiers at one point. I was his team leader. He decided to go to our battalions here at Fort Drum to be a part of our battalion scout and sniper team. On August 31, 2003 Chad Fuller with another comrade were on OP, overwatching as we continue operations Shkin Afghanistan, which is on the border of Pakistan, when there was a large route for the enemy to come through for supplies in that area. As they were on overwatch, they had eight insurgents come by them. We lost Chad that day, but before he perished six went down as he stood there. He believed what he was doing there…
“The bottom line, our citizens, Americans, didn’t matter where they came from, the color of their skins, their religions, their belief, whatever cloth they were cut from, the only cloth that mattered to them was the one that is hanging here, our flag, a symbol of our freedom. As we pay tribute to them today and we have our get-togethers with our families and friends, once again celebrate the sacrifices that they pay for us. I look up there and I know they are still on guard at the pearly gates and looking down upon us, and until we meet them again, we will keep doing our thing here. God bless you, and God bless America. Thank you!”
Great applause sounded, and much gratitude was extended to SFC Ramos.
The presentation of ribbons was then held, conducted by Mike Webster and escorted by Life Scout John Erdman of Gouverneur Boy Scout Troop 21 as follows: WWI (Gerald Barker), WWII (Cecil Steele), Korea (Donald Payne), Vietnam (Ronald Hartle), Panama (Michael Knowlton), Desert Storm (Randy Knowlton), Somalia/Haiti (John Holt), Bosnia (Darryl Sapoff), Afghanistan (Jason Carvel), Iraq (Todd Murray), POW/MIA (Richard Fisher), Women Veterans Memorial (Mie Webster), American Legion Post 65 (Jason Carvel), American Legion Post 65 Auxiliary (Deanna Cline), VFW Post 6338 (Richard Fisher), VFW Post 6338 Auxiliary (Jeff Platt), Gold Star Mothers (Nancy Cappellino), Daughters of the American Revolution (Lynda Andrews), and Sons of the American Revolution (Mark Jenkins).
Gloria Weldon the gave the last roll call of deceased American Legion and VFW members as follows: Al Melisko, Hilliard Seaker, Ed Cousino, Steward Bush, William Scozzafava, Dwayne Martin, Betty Tuttle, Helen Knowlton, Elaine Hawk, Dorothy Macaulay, Audrey Sanderson, Vanita Pierce, Betty Benjamin, Jane Fuller, Joie McDougall, Mildred Hamilton and Paul Gates.
The VFW and American Legion Rifle Squad then presented the Salute to the Dead, followed by Taps (performed by Jenneca Cook) and Echo (performed by John Baez) Musical selections of “Armed Forces on Parade” and the “Star-Spangled Banner” were performed by the Gouverneur High School Band, under the direction of Jenelle Yeoman. The benediction was then given by VFW Auxiliary Chaplain Marlene Webster.
Much gratitude was extended to all those who took part and/or contributed to the annual Memorial Day observance. All those in attendance were then invited to the American Legion Post 65 for a free luncheon following the ceremony.