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Ribbons to remember American soldiers overseas

Large, delicately tied yellow bows with several intricate loops decorated the Saratoga-Wilton Elks Club, Wednesday, April 9, as troop supporters from across the Capital District gathered to honor the nation's servicemen and women.

The yellow bows -- a simple decoration with a significant message -- were made by Carol Pingelski Hotaling, who has organized the event for the past four years.

It's a day set aside to remember the troops, Hotaling said of Yellow Ribbon Day.

An enormous American flag waved in the breeze outside the lodge suspended from the ladder of a Maple Avenue Fire Department truck.

Hotaling said the day is not about politics or whether you support the war, but a day to remember the people who sacrifice for their nation.

Hotaling, known throughout the area as the "Yellow Ribbon Lady," has been making the bows for 17 years, since Desert Storm.

Hotaling and others including members of the Air Force, Army National Guard, Marines and Navy came out to support those serving abroad and especially those missing in action.

"It's my life," Hotaling said. "Nights I don't sleep, I make bows."

Hotaling sent more than 240 bows to Batavia, Ohio, for the March 30 homecoming of the remains of Staff Sgt. Matt Maupin, who had been missing since he was captured April 9, 2004, in Iraq when his convoy came under attack.

"Staff Sgt. Keith Matthew Maupin, like all the citizen soldiers of the Guard and Reserve, set aside his civilian role and civilian life to serve his nation and our Army," said Warrant Officer Tammy Crawford, from the 42nd Infantry Division headquarters in Troy, who provided the keynote address. "His status as POW/MIA missing captured is a constant reminder of the tremendous sacrifice our nation is making overseas. Men and women from across New York state and across the country are answering the nation's call."

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