Remember The Brave

Jamestown’s Veterans Memorial Park became hallowed ground on Saturday morning, according to Chaplain, Colonel David L. Carr of the United States Airforce.

Carr was the keynote speaker for the fourth annual Gold Star Memorial Remembrance, and several other community leaders also offered words of honor for the fallen.

The park was filled with guests, many of whom had lost a loved one in the line of duty. Others were veterans, friends, family and community members who came out to show their support for the solemn, yet highly important event, hosted by the Blue Star Mothers New York Chapter 4.

Susan Rowley, Blue Star Mothers New York Chapter 4 president, offered words of thanks and welcome to open the ceremony.

“Gold star and blue star families stand together,” she said. “We support one another.”

The Blue Star Mothers of America began in the 1940s, and has carried on throughout the years to offer support to one another as well as veterans and more.

The blue star hearkens back to a symbol created during World War I.

The service flag, or the blue star flag, is an official banner authorized by the United States Department of Defense, according to the Blue Star Mothers of America website, and consists of a red border on a white background, surrounding a blue star (or many blue stars) in the center. A blue star flag in the window of a home portrays that the family has a child or children in service.

In later years, a gold star was placed over the blue star on the flag to show that the family had lost their loved one in combat, Rowley explained.

Several dignitaries spoke during the event, including U.S. Representative Tom Reed, R-C-I-Corning; state Sen. Cathy Young, R-C-I-Olean; Assemblyman Andy Goodell, R-C-I-Jamestown; Vince Horrigan, Chautauqua County executive; and Jamestown Mayor Sam Teresi.

Reed said he was thankful to be included in the ceremony and said it is important to remember the fallen are not just names, but people who have given the ultimate sacrifice.

“I came here today to say we will never forget,” he said. “We are forever indebted for their service and their sacrifice.”

Young said she was glad to see so many guests in attendance for the occasion. She said it is important to remember those who put their lives on the line for America’s safety and security.

“I want to thank you for taking the time to remember the sacrifices of our men and women,” she said, adding the veterans in attendance should also be recognized. “Whenever you served and wherever you served, you truly are American heroes.”

Goodell said his father had served in World War II, and his brother had also served in the military.

“But, of course, nothing brings it home closer than when one of your children serves in the military. Then it’s personal,” he said, adding his daughter, Jessica, served in the United States Marine Corps. “It’s personal to me and I know it is personal to all of you.”

He said Chautauqua County has long stood up to answer the call of duty, and approximately 4,000 county residents were involved in the Civil War.

“Those men and women who went to help our country survive left behind families who had to plow their fields on their own,” Goodell said. “About 1,000 of (those who served) never came home.”

He asked the crowd to think of what they can do to help honor the fallen.

Horrigan, a veteran of the United States Air Force, said someone had asked him what the difference between Veterans Day and Memorial Day was. He said the question called into focus the need to continue to educate on the importance of remembering the sacrifices of those who serve and those who died while serving.

“For those who are gone, they will never be forgotten,” Horrigan said. “We have to continue to teach our children and grandchildren that the sacrifices for freedom are not easy.”

Teresi asked the crowd to continue remembering those who gave the ultimate sacrifice each and every day. He also urged the crowd to thank veterans or active duty personnel on a regular basis.

“Sometimes, all that it needs to be is a nod and a simple thank you,” he said.

Carr then took to the podium and said he was honored to be a part of the ceremony.

He said he had been deployed to Afghanistan after 9/11, and had since returned three other times.

“Our nation had been attacked, and we responded,” Carr said. “Good must prevail, and it did. And, it will (because) we are a people who fundamentally believe this.”

He said serving one’s country is an “honorable pursuit.”

“We are the armed services. We proudly serve our country,” Carr said. “Freedom was not, is not and will never be easy and certainly will never be free.”

He said due to the remembrance ceremonies held for those in Chautauqua County who have lost their lives in the name of freedom, the park has since become a sacred place.

“You’re sitting on hallowed ground you hallowed it four years ago,” Carr said. “This is what it’s all about. Those who say there are no heroes today just don’t know where to look.”

During the ceremony, Ronald B. Cotten, U.S. Navy Veteran and past chairman of the Veterans Memorial Commission for the city of Jamestown, was honored with a bench dedication in the park by Kenneth Furlow, United States Marine Corps Vietnam veteran.

Wreaths were placed at the memorial monument in the park, and the Gold Star Families released balloons in honor of their fallen loved ones.