New memorial at Courthouse Square dedicated to veterans

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 11 November 2020 at 5:08 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – Members of the Honor Guard were present today for a dedication service at 1 p.m. for a new veterans’ memorial at Courthouse Square.

The Knights of Columbus, Albion Council #1330, took the lead in the project.

The headstone for the monument includes the inscription: “Dedicated to our courageous brothers and sisters of this community who served our country in times of peace and war. We thank them for their service. And especially to those who gave their lives in that service. May God grant them eternal rest.”

The stone includes the insignias of the U.S. Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, Army National Guard and Merchant Marine.

Greg Dugan, the grand knight for the Knights of Columbus in Albion, speaks to a crowd of about 50 at the dedication ceremony.

The new flag pole includes a flag that recognizes the different branches of the military.

Dugan, a local barber since 1991, said many of his customers over the years have been veterans. He mentioned the late Albion Town Justice Bill Larimer, who was a POW in World War II. Dugan noted the late Rocco Sidari and Charles Shervin. Other current customers, including Ben Jones, currently serve in the military. Jones just returned from tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“I’ve had contact with so many veterans, young and old, since 1991,” Dugan said before today’s ceremony.

Once they are in the barber chair, Dugan said many veterans open up and share about their experiences, including in combat.

Dugan thanked Orleans County officials for supporting the project and allowing it to be in a prominent place in the community.

“It’s been a heart-warming and amazing experience,” he said.

This group salutes and stands at attention while Taps is played. Pictured from left include Assemblyman Steve Hawley, Vietnam War veteran Charlie Nesbitt, County Legislator Don Allport, Medina veteran Dave Kusmierczak, Orleans County Veterans Service Agency Director Nancy Traxler and Greg Dugan, grand knight of the K of C in Albion.

The memorial includes two granite benches. One bench has an inscription, “To Commemorate.” The other has the words, “To Heal.”

“Thank you for taking the time to remember our veterans,” Dugan told the crowd today. “They never gave up on us and we can’t give up on them.”

Rebecca (Hucknall) Platt of Medina was part of the Honor Guard today. She is nearing 20 years in the U.S. Air Force.

Charlie Nesbitt, a decorated helicopter pilot during the Vietnam War, addresses the crowd at the Courthouse Square. He urged the group to take in deep breaths of air and take in their surroundings, with several churches on the Square. In the U.S. people have freedom to attend whatever church they want and to enjoy their surroundings.

“Thank you to the Knights of Columbus for taking the initiative,” Nesbitt said about the new monument. “What a wonderful example to give honor to those who served.”

County Legislator Don Allport said the United States has had brave citizens step forward to defend the country for nearly 250 years.

“I thank God every day for you,” he said about veterans. “Memorials are a reminder of the sacrifices made by those standing in the line and from their families back home.”

Nancy Traxler, director of the Orleans County Veterans Service Agency, said Americans continue to serve the country all over the world.

“It’s not the powerful and sophisticated weapons that make us the greatest military in the world,” she said. “It’s your bravery and skill.”

Nick Fitzak of Medina, a Marine, joined other veterans in the Honor Guard for the ceremony.

State Assemblyman Steve Hawley said the freedoms of Americans have come at a great cost, borne by veterans since the Revolutionary War.

He urged people to honor veterans every day. That could be through volunteering at the VA and donating to causes that benefit veterans.

“Or you could look a veteran in the eye and say, ‘Thank you.’”

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