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In historic ceremony, Chester citizens honor local veterans

Following the Veterans Memorial dedication ceremony held July 7, area citizens flocked to the monuments to find names of relatives and friends.

Following the Veterans Memorial dedication ceremony held July 7, area citizens flocked to the monuments to find names of relatives and friends. Photo by Thom Randall.

— State Sen. Betty Little praised the dozens of people who invested time to make the memorial and the surrounding plaza a reality. She said it transformed the municipal center, making it truly a public landmark.

“This is a wonderful place for people to come, think, and contemplate,’ she said. “This dedication event makes me proud to be an an American.”

Town Supervisor Fred Monroe said the planning and construction of the plaza, which took about a year, was accomplished in an “unbelievably short time.”

“This memorial plaza will live on as a reminder of the thousands who protected our precious freedoms,” he said. “This is a fitting memorial to honor them.”

Monroe continued, noting that the gathering for the ceremony was impressive in size, scope and spirit.

“This is an amazing celebration of community spirit and patriotism,” he said.

Bagpipes were played, taps were sounded, and a volley of gunshots were fired in salute of soldiers who served the nation.

Robin Noel Jewell of Naples Fla. and Bert Britt of Schroon Lake sang various patriotic selections, and hundreds of citizens chimed in, many with tears in their eyes.

The service was concluded by a dramatic fly-over by the “Adirondack Air Force” — John Alexander of Warrensburg piloting a PT-23 Fairchild, and Don Latterell of Queensbury behind the throttle of a PT-17 Stearman biplane. They criss-crossed in the skies overhead — not far above the crowd, which voiced raucous cheers in response.

Afterwards, hundreds of people surrounded the four massive memorials, to view the names of loved ones or friends engraved in the granite slabs.

Jen Smith of Pottersville located the names of three of her relatives — her father, Harry Smith, who served in Viet Nam; her uncle, Robert Smith, who served in the War on Terror, and her second cousin, Robert Wood.

“To see their names here is touching, humbling and moving,” Jen Smith said. “It makes me very proud.”

Debbie Leigh of North Creek located the name of her father, Kenneth W. Tracy, who served in the Marine Corps during World War II.

“This memorial says to my dad, ‘Your life counted, your service to the nation was really important,’ — and it means a lot to me,” Leigh said.

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