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Guest Column: State Sen. Tom O'Mara

"Veterans Day"

ALBANY, Nov. 7 -- Let’s start this week with a memory because, in the end, this week is all about remembering. So I’ll recall former President Ronald Reagan, on June 6, 1984, standing tall on a windswept promontory on the coast of France offering words to commemorate the 40th anniversary of D-Day: “We will always remember. We will always be proud. We will always be
prepared, so we may always be free.”

Always remember. Always be proud. Freedom.

Travel through this region’s individual communities and it’s striking to reflect on the common landmarks that stand equally tall as reminders of the guiding principles and the underlying strengths of our nation: town and village halls, county courthouses, churches, elementary schools, local
public libraries. These fundamental American places still echo the very reasons for our nation’s founding and her endurance as the world’s great democracy.

And so we can’t forget the monuments and memorials that America’s communities have seen fit to build to honor our veterans. Indeed, there may be no more powerful or poignant landmarks anywhere and, later this week, we’ll gather in these places to remember. Because on Friday, November 11th, individual citizens of every age and walk of life will join public officials, veterans, and veterans’ families to observe Veterans Day.

We’ll be observing this year's Veterans Day with the promise of troops coming home, but with so many others still bravely engaged in the war against terrorism. It will be observed at a time when the world’s stage remains embroiled in uncertainty and instability. It truly is a momentous and dangerous time in world history and our annual tribute to veterans takes on many shades of meaning.

But most of all we still stand proud in local ceremonies around the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes regions to honor the sacrifices and the victories of our soldiers – past, present, and future. In so doing, we reaffirm our pride in this nation’s servicemen and women and, of course, we turn our thoughts and prayers to those young soldiers whom we’ve lost from here at home in the recent past – including Devin Snyder of Cohocton, Zachary Smith of Hornell, and Christopher Scott of Dundee.

Since the tragic unfolding of September 11, 2001, this generation has realized, all too painfully, that our freedom here at home can be threatened at any moment. We realize, as well, that our troops always stand ready to protect freedom again and again. The freedoms we cherish have been hard-won by the soldiers of previous generations and by those of this generation who have continued to serve. They are true American heroes, and we are grateful to each and every one of them.

Sacrifice is the truth that we remember and honor on Veterans Day, especially today when sacrifice can too often seem an on-the-decline virtue in American life.

To always honor our veterans is the reason that, in 2005, New York became the fourth state in the nation to establish a Veterans Hall of Fame. It’s the reason that in 2006, on Veterans Day, the grand opening of the new National Purple Heart Hall of Honor took place in New York’s historic
Hudson Valley. The Purple Heart Hall of Honor ( has been a remarkable addition to our state’s rich military history. One other way that New York government seeks to constantly honor military service has been through the development of new laws and the administration of programs and services that seek to address the many challenges facing today’s
veterans in areas such as health care, employment and education.

The state Division of Veterans’ Affairs ( was established in 1945 to assist veterans, members of the armed forces, their families and their dependents. Since then, the division -- in concert with its offices in counties locally and statewide -- has strongly advocated for
New York’s millions of veterans and veterans’ issues at the local, state and national levels. It’s a proud history of service. Earlier this year I welcomed the occasion to honor this history by honoring Schuyler County’s longtime director of veterans services, Phil Smith, by inducting him into the Senate Veterans Hall of Fame. (Read more at:

But Veterans Day, above all else, draws us to those monuments and memorials in our midst that still, and we hope always, rise up to honor those who have served and sacrificed, and still do.

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