An unseasonably cold day caused a large Veterans Day audience to gather inside City Hall to commemorate the 11th hour on the 11th day in the 11th month and the end of World War I, 99 years ago. American Legion Post 128 Commander Fred de Barros officiated and Rev. Dr. John Miller gave the invocation.
Principal Speaker Michael P. Fix enlisted in the Army in 1966, and after O.C.S. was assigned to load ships bound for Vietnam. A thirty-nine-year veteran of Merrill Lynch, he and his wife of 47 years reside in Easchester, where he serves as Adjutant of the LeRoy Gregory American Legion Post. He has written extensively on the men and women of Eastchester who died in World War I, World War II, Korea, and Vietnam.
Fix focused part of his address on two citizen-soldiers from Rye, Curtis S. Read and Brigadier General James G. Harbord. Read, whose name appears on the World War I Memorial across from the Square House helped to create the Boy Scouts of America camp near Lake George in Adirondack State Park where Fix has spent many happy hours. Harbord rose to become General Pershing’s Chief of Staff, and commanded the 4th Marine Brigade at the Battle of Château-Thierry.
Fix exhorted the audience to “Educate your children in patriotism.”
City Councilman Terry McCartney’s remarks resonated with those in attendance. A United States Marine veteran and the son of two veterans, he sounded an alarm about polarization and divisiveness in the country; and noted that service members are so focused on doing their jobs that there is no time or place for prejudice.
“…It is somewhat rare for our young people here in Rye to enter military service, and, while I understand it, I wish it were different. The reason why I say that is because I learned the most valuable lessons of my life serving alongside my fellow Marines…I learned to judge a person by their character, ability, and conduct and not by their race, religion, or gender. I learned the importance of being honest and treating people fairly…I learned to be accountable for my actions. I learned when duty calls, you answer the call.”
“…It is intellectually dishonest and lazy to label someone by their race just as it is to label them as a racist…Instead, let’s have a respectful conversation to try to work it out. That’s what a veteran would do…We thank you for being an example for all of us to follow. We thank you for reminding us that “service above self” is a way of life, not a slogan.”
- <Photos by Tom McDermott>