CASSADAGA - The gray clouds matched the somber tone of the 9-11 remembrance held in Cass-adaga Sunday afternoon.
Organized by the Cassadaga American Legion Post 1280 under the leadership of Legion Commander Bruce Kaus, participants included the Legion, the Legion Auxiliary, the Sons of the American Legion, the Dunkirk Joint Veteran's Council, the Kiwanis Club, and the Chautauqua County Sheriff's Department. Fire departments from Cassadaga, Stockton and Lily Dale were represented with their equipment and personnel.
Assemblyman Andrew Goodell and Cassadaga Mayor LeeAnn Lazarony as well as other village officials also took part in the ceremony.
Cassadaga 9-11 ceremony
The group assembled at the Cassadaga Fire Department for a ceremonial flag ceremony complete with gun salutes performed by honor guards from the Cassadaga Legion and the Joint Veterans Council. When the call came to get ready to proceed up Maple Avenue to Veterans' Circle in the Cassadaga cemetery, the group hushed.
"I have never seen such a large group be so quiet," said Kaus.
Along the parade route, solemn spectators were visible. The parade units filed into the cemetery. For a time, there was rain, but once the chairs were dried the ceremony continued.
OBSERVER Photo by Diane R. Chodan
Left to right: John Bellardo, chaplain; Michael Myers (partially hidden) Stockton Fire Department; Sally Lawson, President of American Legion Auxiliary; Assemblyman Andrew Goodell; Cassadaga Mayor LeeAnn Lazarony; David Rowley, Cassadaga Kiwanis; Michael Stewart, Cassadaga Fire Chief; Tim Cobb Jr., Cassadaga Fire Department; and Bruce Kaus, Commander of American Legion Post 1280.
Speakers John Bellardo, Legion chaplain; Michael Myers of the Stockton Fire Department; Sally Lawson Auxiliary President; Assemblyman Andrew Goodell; Cassadaga Mayor LeeAnn Lazarony; David Rowley, Cassadaga Kiwanis Club; Michael Steward, Cassadaga Fire Chief, and Legion Commander Bruce Kaus, all delivered carefully prepared but brief speeches invoking a number of emotions: horror, hope, pride, gratitude. Most of all they vowed to remember.
Solemn men and women in uniforms, both military and firefighter, listened respectfully. Members of the public stood quietly as well. After the honor squads filed another salute, the groups broke and met again at the legion where a buffet with food contributed by many of the participants was available. This also reflected the spirit of community in the face of grief.
As Sally Lawson had said earlier, "Our small communities are what hold our nation together in times of disaster and loss."
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