Saturday, November 07, 2009

The Oneida Indian Nation honors Veterans and Families. Cookie got blind-sided!

Well Sir, this morning my wife and I attended a popular and solemn event, The Veterans Recognition Ceremony hosted for the past 9 years by The Oneida Indian Nation in Oneida, NY. This beautiful breakfast ceremony is open to all veterans and their families and is free to all.

Cookie and his wife were sitting with about 20 other folks at The Navy Seabee Veterans of America designated table. Just prior to the beginning of the ceremony, a couple that none of us recognised joined us at our table. My wife and I introduced ourselves, as did the other couple in turn. We eventually learned that their son, a Marine, had recently been killed in battle in Afghanistan. They had never attended any events like this before and, since the loss of their son wanted to get more involved in Veteran related affairs. We welcomed this grieving couple into our mix and to our table, thanking them for having honored us by sitting with us. It's when you meet fine folks like this who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country that it really brings the tragedy of war home to you.

Every year there is a guest speaker and this years speaker was Commander Christopher Flaherty of the United States Navy. He is a very accomplished pilot who works out of the Pentagon in Washington, DC and presently flies the Navy P-3 Orion, on Maritime Patrol. I had met Commander Flaherty a little over a year ago when he presided over the opening Ceremony for The Gregory J Harris Military Courtesy Room at Syracuse's Hancock International Airport, a project which I had been involved in. A project by the way that many of you reading this article at this moment contributed your hard earned money to. Again, THANKS TO ALL OF YOU AND MAY GOD BLESS YOU.

During the Commanders presentation he explained the "Missing Man Table" (photo below) and explained the significance of everything on the table and what the items represented. Prior to beginning his very informative presentation regarding the war in Afghanistan and what is being called "The Navy-Marine Team" and its effectiveness in fighting insurgents and terrorists, he began talking about the Military Courtesy Room and how he had been extremely honored to have participated in it's opening ceremony. At this point he mentioned Loren Davies-USMC, Leroy Bowen-USAR, and myself, and informed the folks that the three of us had begun the process of getting the Courtesy Room started and off the ground. He asked us to stand and be recognised. I didn't see that coming.

Later, Commander Flaherty presented me with a beautiful framed picture of the Orion P-3 aircraft that the Commander flies. I was very honored today and was blind-sided by all of this. I just wanted to share my good fortune with y'all.

OK, here are some photygraffs from this mornings event.

The bagpipes being played as both part of the opening and closing ceremonies.

An ugly old grizzly Seabee named Lou!

The "Missing Man Table"

Some of the Seabees and their spouses. The man in the uniform blue shirt is Jim Hilgers, The NSVA Commander.

...another ugly old Seabee accepts an award to be hung in the Military Courtesy Room at the Airport.