SINCLAIRVILLE - Snuggled among the towering pines at the Sinclairville Evergreen Cemetery in front of the Civil War commemorative stone, the community's annual Memorial Day ceremony featured a host of thanks to those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
Sinclairville residents Robert Peterson, Howard Green and Ralph Robinson, all who survived World War II, had honored roles in the Monday service.
Peterson recalled his experience as a pilot of a bomber, flying 20 missions before being shot down over Vienna and surviving 10 months in a German prison of war camp.
OBSERVER Photo by Joan Josephson
As part of Sinclairville’s Memorial Day ceremony, David Vern Luce American Legion Post 778 Adjutant Howard Green reads the names of Sinclairville service men who now rest in the village’s Evergreen Cemetery.
He recalls a Christmas Eve ceremony conducted in the prisoner of war camp when the men sang "Silent Night."
"The German soldiers who were guarding us, joined in," he said.
He also remembers seeing a dead woman lying beside the roadway with a baby carriage, containing a dead baby.
"There was a sign on the carriage that said 'gone to heaven' - I'll never forget it," he said.
He then read a poem he said was written by John DuRusso, one of his bomb group,
The poem goes through each war and conflict American fought over the years beginning with the Revolutionary War through the current day conflicts.
"I was 21 and full of fun, I will never see 22," one line states.
Another goes, "Vietnam, Vietnam! When will we ever learn. I'm one of 50,000 who will never return."
It ends with, "And so in eternity, my thoughts are all for thee
"I'll never forget my America - I pray she remembers me."
Peterson concluded his speech by saying he returned home in June 1945 and was discharged November 1945.
"That's my story," he said to a round of applause.
Green read the roll of Sinclairville service men who are buried in Evergreen Cemetery and Robinson placed a vase of memorial flowers at the base of the Civil War stone.
Sinclairville Mayor Ken France said too many times, America's freedoms are taken for granted.
"We will be celebrating Sinclairville's 200th birthday this year.
"This wouldn't be possible except for the sacrifices that have been made by our service men and women," he said.
In his remarks, David Vern Luce American Legion Post 778 Commander and Vietnam veteran Ted LeBaron said, "This day is sacred with the almost visible presence of those who have gone before us and we honor the memory of those who gave their lives in service to our country.
"May the ceremonies of today deepen your reverence for our dead," he said.
Under the command of Sgt. Arthur Kibbe, the David Vern Luce Post 778 firing squad gave the last fitting tribute, a 21-gun salute to the dead.
The Cassadaga Valley marching band under the direction of John Cross, provided the patriotic music for the ceremony.