Medina community remembers sacrifice at Memorial Day

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 30 May 2016 at 12:00 am

Photos by Tom Rivers

MEDINA – Local veterans, including Adam Johnson at right, carry the flags during today’s Memorial Day parade in downtown Medina. Today is the 150th anniversary of Memorial Day, which started in Waterloo.

The honor guard heads down Main Street, which was packed with residents for the parade.

Veterans, including Fred Heschke (center), stand during today’s Memorial Day service at State Street Park in Medina.

Another veteran, Jim Freas, read the names of veterans from Medina who have died since the last Memorial Day.

The parade included an a vehicle escort for World War II veteran Cpl. Pete Amos, and Janet Rowe, a lieutenant as a Navy nurse in World War II.

These four Medina students will attend a Boys State Conference through the American Legion in late June at Morrisville State College. The four include, from left: Abel Zavitz, Federico Rosario, Nick Bogan and Kristian Snyder. All four spoke during the Memorial Day service at State Street Park.

The Mustang Band heads down Main Street during today’s parade.

Members of the band keep the beat during the parade. The band received an enthusiastic reception from the crowd.

The band makes it way along the parade route, pictured here on West Center Street in front of children waving American flags.

These kids, Teagan Meland and his sister Tzofia Meland, cheer on the band.

Medina youth sports teams join in the parade down West Center Street to State Street Park.

A veteran walks along West Center Street while fire trucks complete the parade procession.

Medina Mayor Michael Sidari and veteran Jim Freas, emcee for the ceremony, address the crowd at State Street Park.

Sidari spoke of his father Frank Sidari’s service in World War II, and his father’s heartache at losing friends in the war.

Former State Assemblyman Charlie Nesbitt also was a helicopter pilot in the Vietnam War and was awarded a “Distinguished Flying Cross” for flying aircraft in hostile enemy territory on three separate occasions while drawing enemy fire to accomplish the rescue of soldiers and crew members downed by enemy fire.

Nesbitt spoke of three other local veterans who died serving their country. Trevor Cook of Lyndonville was a crew chief on a helicopter. He served two tours overseas. He was stationed at Camp Pendleton in California and was a skilled crew chief and marksman. Cook was 25 when he was killed in a helicopter crash during a training exercise on July 6, 2011.

Nesbitt also spoke of the ultimate sacrifice by Albion native Jay Burdett, who was 30 and a Huey pilot when the helicopter crashed during a training mission in October 1991.

Nesbitt also shared about a Little League teammate of his on the Barre Cubs. Rick Engle was a year older than Nesbitt. Engle was killed in Vietnam, attempting to rescue a wounded soldier after their unit was ambushed. Engle was 19 when he died on Feb. 2, 1968.

Those three are among 2 million Americans who have died serving their country in the armed forces.

“Sometimes we take the American way of life for granted,” Nesbitt said. “Veterans know this day is not about the people who came back, but it’s about the people who didn’t.”