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June 14, 2012

In These Otsego Hills: Back in the swing

While we enjoyed our time away this past spring, we do consider ourselves fortunate that we did return to Cooperstown in time to take in several annual Memorial Day Weekend festivities.

The first of these was the annual Upper Pioneer Street Block Party. As we have noted in the past, Upper Pioneer Street kicks off the summer season while the annual Eagle Street Block Party closes down the summer season.

This year, Howard Talbot, who serves as the honorary mayor of Upper Pioneer Street, gave his usual State of the Street address. He noted with sadness the death of longtime neighbor and friend Bonnie Kaido. He also pointed out that we will lose two neighborhood families, the Greenblatts and the Spivaks, both of whom are planning moves this summer. However, we were able to welcome new neighbors Ron and Beth Lytel and their four children, as well as David Strogatz and Roz Thomas.

Congratulations were extended to CCS Class of 2012 graduate Ben Bauer. It was also noted that Carol Taylor’s grandson Sam Bowen is also graduating from CCS this year.

Additionally, mention was made of those graduating from college, including Roseanne Grigoli from Binghamton University, Bob Bauer from the University of Rochester and Brian Reis from Harvard University.

Congratulations were also extended to Frank and Ann Capozza on the birth of grandson Wyatt Henry Flanagan.

And finally, it was pointed out that the Mebust family will once again this year be hosting a Hawkeye baseball team player during July and August.

Following the mayor’s remarks, Upper Pioneer Street neighbors partook of great food and lively conversation, noting that unlike some years, the weather this year was absolutely perfect. We also hasten to note that Howard Talbot’s baked beans were also, as usual, absolutely perfect. In fact, mention was made of the fact that once again he took home an empty casserole dish.

We also managed to take in the annual Memorial Day Parade, something which we have not done in years. And we must say we greatly enjoyed the parade. We always find it most moving when the veterans pass by and wish to salute each and every one them for their service to the country. We all owe them a debt of gratitude for the job they have done.

And we also wish to thank the members of the Cooperstown Central School marching band, and their director Tim Iversen, for their participation in what we think was their second parade of the day in some very hot and sticky weather. We enjoyed their performance and salute them for a job well done.

Unfortunately we did not make it to the Memorial Day Ceremony following the parade, but from all the reports we received, the speaker, Alan Christman, VFW commander for Post 7128 in Cooperstown, gave an excellent speech to commemorate the occasion. We consider ourselves most fortunate that Mr. Christman was kind enough to share a copy of his speech with us. And while space prohibits our using the entire speech, we would like to share what we feel were the most salient points which included the following: “...Since the Revolutionary War, more than 42 million men and women have served in America’s military. More than 1,314,000 of those dauntless, selfless warriors have died in the various conflicts that gave birth to and have sustained our great nation.

“But why are we so willing to fight and if need be to die?

The answer to that question is as simple and yet as complex as the soul of America itself. We fight because we believe.

We believe not that war is good, but sometimes that it is necessary. Our soldiers fight and die not for the glory of war, but for the prize of freedom. The words of the philosopher John Stuart Mills say it best. ‘War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free ...’

“And the heart of America is freedom _ for us and all nations willing to fight for it. And yes _ yes the price is high, but freedom is a wealth no debt can encumber ...

“... As we look around our country we often see many cemeteries where graves of our fallen are often neglected and sometimes even forgotten, I just hope today that this memorial day each and every one of us will find one moment as a people, as a nation, to forget our self-interests and think about all the lost possibilities, the lost dreams, the loss futures of the hundreds of thousands of teenagers and young men and women who out of selfless reason have fallen for us to enjoy what we have as a nation today. If we as a people can’t find that time then we really don’t deserve the gifts that our fallen have given us. If you as an individual treat Memorial Day with reverence and respect, others will follow your lead.

We must never forget what these heroes have done and what their loved ones have lost. There are many ways to remember our fallen, the traditional way is with flowers and flags for their graves or with observances such as this one. But one of the most rewarding is to pass on to future generations their stories and their deeds as a person and as a soldier.

“I would like to leave you today with an anonymous quote: ‘Poor is the nation that has no heroes ... But shameful is the one who has them and forgets them.’”

We found, as did so many others, Mr. Christman’s remarks to be most appropriate.

And we thank him for the time and effort he must have put into his speech. We would also like to salute him for his commitment to increasing membership in the VFW Post 7128, asking that anyone who is eligible and like to join to please contact him by email at vfwpost7128@yahoo.com.

PLEASE NOTE: Comments regarding this column may be made by mail at 105  Pioneer Street, Cooperstown, NY 13326,by telephone at 547-8124 or by email at cellsworth1@stny.rr.com.

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