A small crowd gathered at Oswego's Veterans Memorial Park earlier today for a Veterans Day flag lowering ceremony and memorial dedication for members of the military lost in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The cold, rainy weather did not stop veterans and their families from attending the event, where the national, state and POW/MIA flags were lowered, folded and given to Oswego Mayor Thomas Gillen for safe keeping through the winter months. The flags will be raised again on Memorial Day.
Lt. George Hoffman, with the U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps in Oswego and the Commander of VFW Post 2320, led the ceremony. He says seeing people come out to show respect for he nation's vets is important, but should not be reserved to just one day.
"The most important paycheck that a veteran can receive, today's military person or a veteran, is a handshake and a real thank you," Hoffman said. "That's the biggest paycheck that we can ever receive."
He says thanking a veteran for their service is a simple but meaningful gesture.
"It means that somebody does appreciate what we have done in protecting our rights and freedoms," Hoffman said. "As we mentioned, there's only one percent of the population today that is wearing the military uniform, compared to years ago when there was a higher number. So, it really means a lot."
The ceremony also included the unveiling of a new memorial honoring servicemen and women lost in Iraq and Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom.
Hoffman says he hopes it's the last memorial the group has to dedicate, because war is never the answer.