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Veterans Day observance on Sunday

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Amvets Wallace E. Rock Post 19 Commander Robert G. Flavin has a ready answer for the question that, to many like him, shouldn’t be asked in the first place.

Mr. Flavin and Amvets are in charge of organizing Sunday’s annual 11 a.m. Veterans Day observance at Groulx Park, the monument-decorated green space at Champlain, Ford and Greene streets. Fluctuating attendance - often dictated by inclement weather - has been interpreted by some as apathy toward veterans. It is a touchy issue which makes the question even more so.

Do these ceremonies really resonate?

“Yes,” said Mr. Flavin, a U.S. Navy veteran who served in Vietnam in 1967. “It’s for the veterans who gave their lives. They should be remembered.”

State Division of Veterans’ Affairs Counselor Thomas Robinson has no doubt that ceremonies like Sunday’s in Groulx Park are worthwhile, appreciated and necessary.

“To reflect and pay tribute to all those gracious veterans who were willing to give so freely of themselves and serve to protect our sacred freedoms we enjoy daily,” Mr. Robinson said Wednesday. “Let us never forget these sacrifices made by our veteran community. I personally thank all veterans for their service to their state and country.”

The timing of the Veterans Day ceremony is numerically significant. The 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918 marked a close to fighting in World War I. Observance of the day, in memory of what at the time was called as “the war to end all wars” was known as Armistice Day until it was changed to a day to honor all military veterans under President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

The centerpiece monument recognizes the late Charles Groulx, of Ogdensburg, who was killed in France during World War I. Surrounding it are monuments to departed Ogdensburg veterans of World Wars I and II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Persian Gulf War and the war on ter Wars I and II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Persian Gulf War and the war on terrorism. The latest addition is a monument for the American Revolution donated by the Swe-Kat-SI Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

Wreaths will be laid at the monuments at Sunday’s ceremony by delegations from Amvets, DAR, American Legion Post 69, Disabled American Veterans and Amvets Ladies Auxiliary.

Mr. Flavin won’t be at the ceremony, but he’ll be close to the observance. He is taking his family to Washington, D.C., for Sunday’s Veterans Day ceremony at the Vietnam Veteran Memorial Wall, where the names of all 58,195 inscribed names of departed veterans will be read aloud.

Mr. Flavin was aboard the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Forrestal in the Gulf of Tonkin off the coast of Vietnam on July 29, 1967. Fire broke out on the vessel after a rocket misfired. One hundred and thirty-four sailors were killed and another 161 were injured.

“That’s why I’m going to Washington,” Mr. Flavin said. “I got 134 friends on that wall.”

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