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The Resource Center took time Thursday, November 9, to thank TRC employees and others who have served in the Armed Forces.
The eighth annual Veterans Day luncheon was held at The Resource Center’s administrative offices on Dunham Avenue in Celoron. The program was led by Mark Morton, Assistant Executive Director of Employee Relations.
“It’s important to take time each year to thank those who served our country,” Mark said. He also read excerpts of President John Kennedy’s 1961 Veterans Day address.
In what has become a tradition at the event, John Graham, who receives supports from The Resource Center, sang the National Anthem. Then Paul Fardink, a retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel who is TRC’s Executive Liaison for Manufacturing Support, led the audience in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.
Assemblyman Andy Goodell – whose father, brother and daughter served in the military – noted that throughout our nation’s history, America has been fortunate to have people willing to “stand up and make a difference” by joining the Armed Forces.
“Veterans are willing to give everything they have for everybody else. There’s nothing greater than someone who is willing to put all they have, including their lives, on the line for someone else,” Andy said.
He credited the bravery and self-sacrifice of America’s veterans for making the United States the nation it is.
“We’re the country we are today because of the people who came before us, and we’ll be the greatest country in the world because of the people who will follow us,” Andy said. “We are committed to doing what’s right. We’re committed with the most precious resource we have – our people.”
County Executive Vince Horrigan, a retired Air Force colonel, served in the Vietnam War. More than 58,000 U.S. troops died during that conflict, and Vince said he knew a number of people who “gave their life, the ultimate sacrifice, to serve our nation.”
Vince also discussed the sacrifices made by the family members who are left behind when troops are deployed overseas.
Looking around the room at the veterans gathered there, Vince asked for a show of hands as he called out each branch of the service. He was especially happy to have fellow Air Force veterans present, but he made it clear he felt a kinship among every veteran there.
“What a great sense of pride I have to be called a veteran, along with the rest of you,” Vince said.
Jacqueline Phelps attended the event on behalf of Congressman Tom Reed. She thanked veterans for their service, saying, “You put your life on the line to make this nation what it is.”
She said veterans provide a meson in civic and work ethic, adding that our community is a better place because of its veterans. She said the same thing applies to The Resource Center.
“The Resource Center is another one of those places in the community that, if we didn’t have it, we wouldn’t be as great.”
Susan Rowley attended the luncheon in two capacities, as a representative for Senator Cathy Young and as the President of the local chapter of Blue Star Mothers, an organization that exists to support veterans and active-duty personnel, and their families. Susan has a son who has been deployed five times to Iraq and Afghanistan.
She thanked each veteran for his or her service, adding, “All citizens owe a debt to our military veterans, past and present.” She noted that the Blue Star Mothers currently are gathering items to ship to U.S. troops for the holidays.
Susan mentioned that Senator Young helped secure a $185,000 grant to start a Dwyer Peer-to-Peer Program in Chautauqua County. The Dwyer Program supports veterans via a variety of social activities. Rowley introduced Cindy Reidy, the Coordinator of the local program, who spoke about the group and shared information about the program’s activities.
Next to speak was Greg Carlson, Chautauqua County’s Director of Veteran Services. He expressed appreciation to the veterans in the room.
“We thank you for saying, `I am willing to defend your life,’” Greg said.
An employee of The Resource Center before being named to his current position, Greg said he wasn’t surprised that dozens of veterans work for TRC, an organization whose main mission is to support people with disabilities.
“If you have a heart for service, you have a heart for service,” he said.
Greg then handed out Veteran Recognition Certificates to the TRC employees present who have served in the Armed Forces.
Paul Fardink then went around the room and gave each veteran the opportunity to talk a bit about his or her military service.
Jamestown resident Peter Carlo, an Army veteran who donates American flags to area schools and non-profit organizations, was the last person to speak. Pete shared a story about a Christmas he experienced during the Korean War. In early December of that year, while stationed along the front lines, he received a package from his girlfriend, Mary (now his wife of more than 60 years). The package contained a 2-foot-high artificial Christmas tree. While Mary had sent along some ornaments to be placed on the tree, Pete told the audience, there weren’t enough to cover the tree. So he supplemented her ornaments by hanging bullets and hand grenades from the branches.
Pete commented on the fact that although the Korean War hostilities ended in 1953, relations between the United State and North Korea are tense. He expressed hope that cooler heads will prevail.
“I want Washington to understand we don’t need any more fighting,” he said.