COLONIE — The North Colonie Central School District dedicated a memorial wall on Thursday, Nov. 7 “in honor of all our veterans past, present and future.”
Retired Army Lt. Elizabeth Condon was the keynote speaker, and she talked about the sacrifices veterans signed up for, and the sacrifices their families make because of it.
“When we are out there doing the job, we are doing the job. We are not thinking about the fear the loss. We are thinking about our comrades and getting the job done. My daughter is the one who sacrificed,” she told a crowd during a ceremony. “When we talk about the sacrifice, it is the family, in my opinion, who sacrifices the most. When we are doing our thing, they don’t have our time, they don’t have our presence. They are afraid for us. We know what the situation is. We know day-by-day. Even in combat, there are safe times, but our families don’t know that and we can’t call them and tell them. They live in fear 24 hours a day.”
Condon is a patriot member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, a designation meaning she has served too, and a member of her family served in each U.S. conflict since “before it was the U.S.” She led a contingent at Ground Zero in New York City after the Sept. 11 attack and then led troops in Iraq during America’s response. During her career, she travelled the world, and, of course, her daughter could not be with her.
“There is so much we miss. Holidays, birthdays, the first time they walk. And they miss us. When we sign up, we know we can lose our lives but our families didn’t sign up for that,” said the Colonie native, adding she and other veterans are thankful beyond words for community support.
There was a dinner to kick off the evening in the Shaker High gym served free to veterans by Shaker High School students. The master of ceremonies was the Shaker High School World of Difference Club’s Kait Montimurro. The Siena ROTC Color guard posted colors while the Patriot Riders stood guard.
The Shaker High choir sang the “National Anthem” and “Alexander’s Ragtime Band” and the Southgate second grade class performed Grand Ole Flag.”
Jenny Ma, a member of the Shaker High World of Difference Club who is going into the military after graduation, spoke on behalf of the student body.
“Service is defined as the action of helping others,” she said. “But it does not come close to truly expressing the significance of the service provided by our nation’s veterans. Just 0.5 percent of the population enlist. These few great souls place themselves on the battle field everyday risking their lives and this is because every cadet, every soldier and every veteran inherently believes this country is worth fighting for. They put the entire country before themselves and defend all we value.
“Freedom is the right soldiers fight to keep. This does not fall on deaf ears. We owe our lives, liberty and right to all of you. We are able to live in the home of the free because of the brave.”
After preliminaries inside the gym, the ceremony moved outside for a formal dedication of the wall that reads: “In honor of all our veterans past, present and future.” It was built at the east side of the football field as part of a multi-million, district-wide renovation project.
Shaker high students placed a wreath in front of the plaque commemorating each branch of service: Army, Navy, Airforce, Marines and Coast Guard.
“Our veterans are inextricably bound to the fabric of our community. They are our husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, grandfathers, grandmothers, friends and neighbors,” said Superintendent Joseph Corr. “While it is important we honor veterans each Nov. 11, and remember the consummate sacrifice at the end of every May, our demonstrations of honor and gratitude for their service must be constant. We will actively and intentionally keep in the minds of our children the history and stories of our veterans unique service. We will teach them that our veterans answered the call of duty. Disrupted their lives. Left their family and friends. Suffered physical, social and emotional wounds. Witnessed the unimaginable and in some cases made the supreme sacrifice.
“True gratitude involves taking action and not just twice a year. Our gratitude must be constant, ongoing and active.”
Click on a photo below to view a slideshow of the rest.