Let Us Now Praise Good Men
It was all quiet on the Village Green in the hours leading up to the 11th hour of the 11th day of November. But shortly after 10 that crisp fall morning, veterans, organizers, and camera crews began arriving on what soon began to seem almost hallowed ground.
It was all quiet on the Village Green in the hours leading up to the 11th hour of the 11th day of November. But shortly after 10 that crisp fall morning, veterans, organizers, and camera crews began arriving on what soon began to seem almost hallowed ground. World War II veterans walked slowly to their seats, chatting easily among themselves.
After Rye Post 128 Commander Tom Saunders, whose father was a Marine, officially greeted the crowd, Rev. Joseph Lim delivered the invocation. A former Lt. Colonel in the USAF, Lim had firsthand knowledge of “the courage it takes to face war and vanquish the oppressor.”
Mayor Doug French asked the audience to consider how we can best express our gratitude to those who served. “We can give to organizations that support veterans. We can also bring back parades. We are best when we are connected.”
State Senator George Latimer referred to the scene in “Saving Private Ryan,” when, years after he is saved and with his family is looking out over all the gravesites in the American Cemetery in Normandy, Ryan asks his family for reassurance that his life was worth saving: “Tell me I’ve lived a good life.”
Latimer turned to the veterans and said, “Gentlemen, you are good men. God bless you.”
Assemblyman Steve Otis reminded everyone of the increasing challenges for returning veterans.
As Commander Saunders noted, Lee Woodruff, the principal speaker, needs no introduction. “With her first book, ‘In an Instant,’ she focused the public’s attention on the challenges today’s veterans face.” With her husband, Lee co-founded the Bob Woodruff Foundation.” To date, they’ve raised over $20 million to “help heroes on the home front.”
Woodruff said, “I don’t wear a uniform so I’m humbled to be standing her before you.” Looking around, she asked, “Why are there not more children here to learn about sacrifice?”
She noted that fewer than 1 percent are in military service, protecting the freedom for the other 99 percent. “Yet we don’t align ourselves with vets, and they feel terribly isolated.”
Woodruff encouraged everyone to start by reading “Thank You for Your Service,” by David Finkel. More importantly, she urged everyone to pick an area where they could help veterans. “There are more than 40,000 organizations promising they give 87 percent of every dollar to veterans,” she said.
“We have a chance to do more than just say thank you. Unemployment for young veterans is 20 to 23 percent compared to 7 percent in the general population. Why is this? These young veterans are resourceful people.”
After a moment of silence at the 11th hour, everyone watched Lee Woodruff talking easily with veterans and their families. While she does not wear a uniform, she has proudly served our community and our nation’s veterans, especially those who’ve suffered life-altering injuries.
— Photos by Robin Jovanovich