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Wayne County Life note: The following Memorial Day address was delivered three times at three different locations in Lyons, NY on 25 May 2009.

SUBMITTED by Les Bartley, United States Navy Ret. (25-May-2009)

Good morning…thank you for taking the time and making the effort to remember ordinary Americans...Lyons and Wayne County ordinary Americans, like you and me…who have done extraordinary and heroic things to protect our freedom. Some lost their lives in the process. Dick Renkert, our neighbor here in The Village, was a Navy guy who survived and lived his final years here in our Village. He and Alice are over there…their graves are marked by a small American flag, as are so many you see before you. Over the hill alongside route 14 there are about 70 more flags, placed by thoughtful, caring members of military groups. There are more flags in the South cemetery, too.

 American Flags decorate the resting place of Lyons Veterans

It is a time to remember. Many of you have been here on Memorial Days, like this one, for a long time. Two such people are up there on the hillside and have been here rain or shine every Memorial Day for forty years. Art and Marcia Trombino, like you, leave the lawn mowing and household chores to be here to remember. Thank you to them and to you for honoring those who have served our country. People like you and me who gave up all their tomorrows so we could have ours. A veteran is someone who, at one point in his or her life, wrote a blank check, made payable to “The United States of America,” for an amount of “up to and including my life.” That is honor…and there are way too many people in this country who no longer understand what honor means. That’s not you. You’re here.

One who understands the meaning of commitment and honor, a veteran who served in our Army as a Sergeant, is standing to my right. Jim Fabino not only served his country, but has been a long time County Supervisor, representing Lyons and active in local service organizations. At age 85, having touched a lot of lives, he recently decided it is time to rest. Join me please in honoring our advocate, our friend, Supervisor Jimmy Fabino.

Les Bartley gives 2009 Memorial Day Address in Lyons

Just what is a veteran? A lady from Geneva, in a letter to the Finger Lakes Times a few years ago, reminded us that a veteran, by definition, is not a veteran until after discharge from active duty...Or paid the price of our freedom with their life. Such people are here, their final resting place marked with a flag. Think of them when this service is over and stop by those flags to see who they were, and thank them in your own way.

It is sad for me personally to think that, three years since I last stood here, the crazy war in Afghanistan and Iraq is still dragging on. It is a different kind of war, fought in streets, alleyways, and mountainous terrain with combatants who use women and children as shields. Terrorists who use roadside bombs to kill and injure our military personnel. In a news article last year, I was really upset to read of the death of an Army Platoon leader, leading a group of ten men in two Humvees. She and two others were killed by an Improvised Explosive Device, detonated by remote control. That platoon leader was a young mother, a reservist called to active duty in Iraq for the second time. She left a husband and three little kids at home.

Children lay down flowers to honor their local heroes

These are troubled times in an uncertain world. Our armed forces have a difficult job, a demanding job and their service to our country shines bright for their efforts. No words of praise can ever repay their sacrifice, their loss of time with their families, and some who have lost their lives on the job. If anyone deserves special recognition…it’s them. But you know that. You’re here.

Think for a moment, please, about the women who have served in the United States armed forces. Currently, some 200 thousand American women are on active duty or drilling in reserve centers on weekends or one night a week, learning how to survive in time of war and serve their country. No longer are these women limited to being Nurses, Supply clerks or in other non combatant jobs. They drive tanks, fly jet fighter planes, and are regular crew members on all but the smallest Navy ships. Have you been to the movie in Newark recently? During the movie previews, they show a picture of a young Lieutenant named Carolyn, dressed in her flight suit, who flies Navy helicopters. Just a few years ago, she was selling tickets at that theater.

 Les Bartley's 2nd address of the day at Lyons Central Park

In closing, I’d like to recognize one of our own veterans, born and raised here in Lyons. You might know Linda DeMott who lives on Culver Street. Linda’s probably here today and thinking about her sister Barbara. Years ago, Barb DeMott was working at a retail store in Rochester. She got to thinking that there had to be more to life than that for her. She made a life-altering decision, and at age 30, joined the US Navy. I called her at home in Florida two weeks ago. She told me that it was tough keeping up with the younger recruits at Boot Camp. But she persevered and with over twenty years of service, retired as a Senior Chief Petty Officer - if you’re more familiar with the rate in other service branches, that’s like a Master Sergeant. During her twenty year career, she got to places most of us will never see. She was a ship’s serviceman, starting her first tour at the Naval Operations Command in Norfolk. Other assignments took her to Japan, Pearl Harbor, Bermuda, the Mediterranean, Key West, Jacksonville, and a three year assignment on the USS Sierra, a Destroyer Tender. Her last duty station was in Maine … “join the Navy and see the world,” is the old Navy recruiters slogan. She did, and did so honorably. Barb reaffirmed my thoughts about the camaraderie and friendships built while serving our country. You watch each other’s back. And you respect those who have served. Some -- like me, wear the uniform to remind all of us, on days like this, that brave men and women still serve and protect.

A group of men in that color guard over there, proudly wear the uniform in the same spirit, to honor other veterans. Men of the VFW, on behalf of a grateful country, The State of New York and we, your neighbors in Lyons, …I salute you.

Color Guard for Memorial Day Address in Lyons, New York

Thank you friends for being here to remember those who served us all.And especially those who continue to do so.

God bless the United States of America.


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1 Comment to "Memorial Day Address 2009"

  1. Les Bartley Said,

    I am so very fortunate to have found a home and friends here in Lyons. I arrived seven years ago and have been impressed by the caring, committed nature of many of it's citizens from the Town and Village of Lyons. Among them are the very talented and energetic Mark DeCracker. If it's happening, he's there, camera in hand.You see his photos in this article. Jim Fabino is an amazing man as well. He has been at the business of looking out for all of us for years and years. The beautiful cemetery you see behind me is well cared for by Jimmy and his crew; always well prepared for this day when we honor those who served in our nation's military - some,like me and the VFW Color Guard and those who mark the graves with our country's flag out of respect for fallen comrades, deeply appreciate the annual support by Jim, Mark and others too numerous to mention; they make it happen. Thank you. I am a proud citizen of Lyons, New York.

    Les Bartley, Commander, USNR-Ret.

    Posted on Tue May 26, 10:59:00 PM EDT


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