ALBANY COUNTY During the month of December, loved ones and old acquaintances often get together to reminisce, but as time goes on, planning those gatherings becomes harder to manage. Harder still is planning a holiday event for World War II veterans whose numbers are shrinking.
For the past three years, Delmar resident Frank DeSorbo has organized a local recognition and remembrance ceremony for veterans of the European invasion known as D-Day. DeSorbo said the idea for an observance day first came in 2005 when he was visiting the former D-Day museum in New Orleans, now called the National WWII Museum.
He was taking a self-guided tour when he came across a man in his 80s also looking at the exhibits.
“He was a survivor of Normandy, front line combat. I asked him what today was and told him it was D-Day. He said no one had mentioned it to him all day except for me,” said DeSorbo in a previous interview.
The past few events have been a success, although finding survivors has been a challenge. Nearly 50 D-Day survivors attended last year’s ceremony, with about 275 people attending the ceremony in all at the Holiday Inn Express in Latham.
Now, DeSorbo is looking to put together a second, smaller event for the holidays.
“Because of the ceremony, I keep in touch with a lot of the veterans,” said DeSorbo, 66. “I also recently went on an Honor Flight trip, and a lot of them were talking about how great it would be to get together.”
DeSorbo said he typically has a holiday party for about 40 people at his home, where he sometimes invites some of the veterans he’s met. This year, he felt it would be nicer to hold a larger event where all local veterans would be able to attend, but with less of a somber feel so everyone could have fun and maybe strike up some new friendships.