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Guest Column: State Sen. Tom O'Mara

"It is altogether fitting and proper"

ALBANY, May 26 -- Spread throughout the Empire State Plaza in Albany, tucked here and
there between the State Capitol and other government buildings, are a number of lesser-known memorials that are among the capital’s quieter, yet most powerful attractions. There are memorials to the veterans of World War II, Korea and Vietnam. There’s a Purple Heart Memorial, and places of tribute to women veterans and others.

They capture the essence of Memorial Day, and I encourage you to visit them if you ever have the chance [you can view photos and brief descriptions of many of these memorials online at]

These memorials and all the others like them dotting the American landscape are remindful of the words of Lincoln, at Gettysburg: “We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.”

It remains “fitting and proper” that American citizens throughout this great land of ours gather every Memorial Day to remember our veterans, past and present. It is one of our nation’s most important traditions, a time to celebrate our past, honor our present, and look forward to our future.

Let’s hope it will always be so.

Many of us locally are meeting in cemeteries, parks and veterans memorials across the region this Memorial Day, in Penn Yan and Hammondsport, Montour Falls and Ithaca, Watkins Glen and Dundee, Rock Steam and Southport, among others. I’ll be attending ceremonies in Elmira, Savona and Horseheads. There’ll be tributes at the Naval Monument in Watkins Glen, the Veterans Park nearby Odessa, and other veterans’ monuments, American Legions and VFWs throughout the region.

There will be specific remembrances this year: of the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, and of the last American combat forces leaving Vietnam forty years ago, in March 1973.

And there will be so many personal recollections shared among friends and family members of individual veterans -- stories of battles, heroism and honor and, always, abiding love of community and country.

It is always a great privilege to carry on the essential observance of Memorial Day.

We must especially remember and salute the men and women who serve in harm’s way this very moment to keep America strong and the world safer in the war against terror. They remain shining examples of the bravery, courage and perseverance on which the American way of life has survived.

It’s a time to reflect on the greatness of a nation built on the sacrifices of her soldiers, soldiers who still today stand tall to serve the underlying dreams of our homeland: freedom and peace, compassion and decency, and democracy.

In remembering, of course, we turn our thoughts and prayers to those young soldiers whom we've lost from here at home in the recent past.

We honor our wounded warriors.

We salute the millions of veterans living in New York State, and all of the many millions more across our nation. They have earned our gratitude.

Because of them, we can look into the eyes of our young people this Memorial Day, the faces of the future, and have faith that they, too, will be instilled with the spirit to keep America great. To keep believing that the American way is a good, decent, worthwhile way.

In the end, perhaps this is the greatest justice for all of the missions flown, for all of the foxholes dug, for the hills taken and the battles fought. Our soldiers -- American soldiers -- have made and continue to make the ultimate sacrifice to keep America free, so that she can lead the way to a more free world. Our soldiers sacrifice to keep alive America’s promise, so that people throughout the world can look to her for inspiration. Our soldiers sacrifice to keep America strong, so that other nations can draw courage from her strength.

For as long as we remember and keep our soldiers alive in our hearts, we will stand as we do -- free in a land of opportunity and promise.

[To read more on the history of New York State as the “Birthplace of Memorial Day,” visit New York’s Hall of Governor’s website:]

Photo in text: State Senator Tom O'Mara

Schuyler County Officials

Legislature Members:

Top row (from left): Dennis Fagan, Thomas Gifford, Doris Karius, Glenn Larison

Bottom row: Michael A. Yuhasz, Barbara Halpin, Phil Barnes, Stewart Field


Legislature Chairman

Dennis Fagan, Tyrone 607-292-3687

Legislature Members:

Michael A. Yuhasz, 535-4967

Doris L. Karius, 546-5544

Barbara Halpin, 594-3683

Glenn R. Larison, 594-3385

Thomas M. Gifford, 535-9517

Phil Barnes, Watkins Glen 481-0482

Stewart Field, Watkins Glen 535-2335

County Clerk: Linda Compton, 535-8133

Sheriff: William Yessman, 535-8222

Undersheriff: Breck Spaulding, 535-8222

County Treasurer: Margaret Starbuck, 535-8181

District Attorney: Joseph Fazzary, 535-8383


State, Federal Officials for Schuyler County

Sen. Charles E. Schumer

United States Senate
313 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510-3201
DC Phone: 202-224-6542
DC Fax: 202-228-3027
Email Address:

Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand

United States Senate
478 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
DC Phone: 202-224-4451

State Senator Tom O'Mara -- Chemung, Schuyler, Steuben, Yates, western Tompkins, Enfield, Ithaca (Town and City), Newfield, Ulysses(Trumansburg)

Room 812, Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12247
Phone: (518) 455-2091
Fax: (518) 426-6976

Assemblyman Christopher Friend -- Chemung, Schuyler, Tioga
Room 720, Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12248
Phone: (518) 455-4538


© The Odessa File 2011
Charles Haeffner
P.O. Box 365
Odessa, New York 14869