LAKE GEORGE Rain pelted the metal roof overhead, at times drowning out the words of New York National Guard Colonel Eric Olsen as he spoke at Warren County's annual POW-MIA Memorial Ceremony held June 2.
Participating in the event were dozens of veterans, many of them motorcyclists who’d ridden through a drenching thunderstorm that displaced the ceremony from Prospect Mountain to the Lake George American Legion’s picnic pavilion off Rte. 9L.
“You guys have the grit, because you’ve seen far worse,” he said to the bikers — many of them standing at attention holding flags as a color guard — noting how they’d ridden from the mountaintop to the Legion Post through the downpour.
Among those navigating the downpour on two wheels were American Legion Riders groups from Chestertown, Warrensburg, Mechanicville, Hudson Falls and Broadalbin; the regional Patriot Guard Riders; and the American Guardians of Lake George — joined by the Combat Veterans Association as well as Legionnaires, V.F.W. members and Auxiliary; and personnel from the Marine Corps League.
Olsen, the National Guard’s chief Chaplain, praised the veterans for their service, while paying tribute to the prisoners of war and the soldiers missing in action.
“You veterans know what it takes when you raise your hand and join the service —throwing your lot to the wind with your destiny in others’ hands,” he said. “You did it with courage and fidelity.”
He praised the veterans for willingness to sacrifice their lives for their nation, which he said was based on one’s dedication to family and friends, as well as a firm belief in U.S. citizens determining their own future, rather than risk kowtowing to tyrants.
“I’m proud to stand here with men and women who have these beliefs, and that’s what today is all about,” he said, noting that the soldiers classified as missing in action and those who died prisoners of war made the ultimate sacrifice.