Members of several local veterans organizations and the Rome Veterans Council helped to lead an observance today to honor the area’s servicemen and women at Veterans Memorial Park on North James Street.
Despite the chill from an "Arctic invasion," dropped temperatures 10 to 15 degrees below the seasonal average and the threat of an impending storm expected to drop four to eight inches of snow — or more — between today and Tuesday, a large crowd gathered to honor those in the community who have served in the nation's military.
Rick Weltz served as master of ceremonies. The invocation was given by Council Chaplain Dale Zdziebko, and Mayor Jacqueline M. Izzo welcomed veterans and guests. Eastern Air Defense Sector personnel performed the Retiring of the Colors, which were flown in honor of Charles McAleese, a deceased Air Force veteran, and the flag was presented to his widow, Margaret McAleese.
MCpl Jeff Feenstra and MCpl Marie-Pier Grimard-Berube represented the Canadian Honor Guard.
The ceremony also included the performance of both the United States national anthem and Canadian national anthem by Anne Wright, Catherine Doolittle, John Nogas and Carl Willson.
Khawar Nasim, Deputy Consul General of Canada in New York was the event's guest speaker.
Gold Star Mothers Agnes Geary and Janet Uvanni laid a memorial wreath at the base of the Veterans Memorial. The Royal Canadian Air Force Memorial Wreath was presented by Lt. Col. Josh Klemen and W.O. Mark Keown. The EADS wreath was presented by Col. Emil Filkorn and CMSgt. Tammy Weber.
There was also a firing detail from the VFW Post 2246 Honor Guard, a performance of Taps by Paul Pawlikowski, of the the VFW and Howard Clemens of Smith Post, and a performance of Amazing Grace by Dave Morgan, of the VFW 2246 Honor Guard.
Zdziebko gave the benediction and Wright, Doolittle, Nogas and Willson sang "God Bless America."
Participating organizations included: Henry P. Smith Post, VFW Post 2246, Disabled American Veterans Chapter 20, Frank J. Steczko Post PAV, NYS Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, 82nd Airborne Association, Edward L. Smith Detachment Marine Corps League, Air Force Sergeants Association of the Mohawk Valley, Chiefs Group of the Mohawk Valley, Order of the Purple Heart Association, Ex-POWs Association, Knights of Columbus Council 391 Fourth Degree, East Air Defense Sector, Canadian Detachment Great Rome-Utica Chapter, Military Officers Association of America, Rome Free Academy Air Force Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps, Rome School District CAP Cadets and the American-Ukrainian Veterans, along with associated auxiliaries.
The program was developed by Dave Riley, Frank Carletta and Tom Kenealy,
Officers for the Rome Veterans Council include: President Michael Grogan; Vice President Ron Barry; Secretary Dave Riley; Treasurer John Conners; Chaplain Dale Zdziebko and Sergeant-at-Arms Howie Mata. Officers for the Rome Memorial Day Association are Leonard Dutton, president; Thomas Kenealy, vice president; Dave Riley, secretary and treasurer; Dale Zdziebko, chaplain; and Frank Carletta, sergeant-at-arms.