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Flag law honors fallen Guilderland native solider

— Flags lowered to half-staff at the State Capitol in honor of a fallen soldier will be given to loved ones at no cost through a new law named after a Guilderland native.

Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the “Lt. Colonel Todd Clark Memorial Flag Presentation Program” into law on Sunday, Nov. 10, which took effect immediately. Family members of a deceased armed service member honored through the governor ordering flags to be lowered at half-staff will not have to pay to receive the flag.

Clark, who the law is named after, was a 17-year veteran of the U.S. Army when he was killed on June 8 in Afghanistan.

“As we honor the service of all those who served this Veteran’s Day, I am proud to sign this legislation to provide this lasting symbol to the families of those who made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our freedom,” Cuomo said in a statement. “By giving these flags to the loved ones of our heroes, we will help further honor their memory and courage.”

Clark, while recuperating from serious wounds sustained during a tour of duty, traveled to the State Capitol to discuss veterans’ issues with legislators. He served multiple tours in the Middle East.

Clark was called back to active duty in Afghanistan, and in June he confronted an enemy combatant threatening soldiers in his unit. During the confrontation, he was shot and killed. The governor honored his service through ordering flags be lowered.

Senator Hugh Farley, R-Niskayuna, said he was pleased to work with the Clark family, who brought the issue to his attention, and thanked Cuomo for supporting the law.

Previously, such lowered flags were retired after their initial use, but the new program ensures flags are presented for free to the next of kin.

Assemblywoman Patricia Fahy, D-Albany, said sponsoring the bill was a “true privilege” to create the flag program honoring Clark’s “ultimate sacrifice.”

“This is a small expression of our enduring gratitude to the families of fallen veterans such as Lt. Colonel Clark and all of those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in service to our great country,” Fahy said in a statement.

Senator Cecilia Tkaczyk, a co-sponsor of the law, said the program will provide “support, respect and appreciation” to the families of armed service members.

“It is a fitting tribute to Lt. Colonel Clark, a true hero who always answered the call of duty,” Tkaczyk, D-Duanesburg, said in a statement.

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