Press-Republican

May 26, 2013

Focus on true meaning of Memorial Day

By GORDIE LITTLE, Small Talk
Press-Republican

---- — This is a time for remembering. I do a lot of that these days. Kaye does as well. We awoke on this past Tuesday, grateful for good health and happiness as we greeted another day on the beautiful Saranac River in Morrisonville. 

Sipping hot coffee and drinking in the wonderful sights from our screened-in Saranac Room, we offered our prayers of gratitude skyward. We also said a prayer for those who had to face utter devastation and loss after the tornadoes in Oklahoma. Our hearts break for all of them. 

We were planning our first camping trip of the season at Cole’s Creek on the St. Lawrence River. We are no doubt there enjoying those American/Canadian vistas as you read this at your breakfast table Sunday morning. Before hitching up the camper and heading down the turnpike, we began checking off the to-do items on our list. It’s about five pages long.

Buying a special floral basket for the cemetery was a priority. Placing it lovingly on the graves of our loved ones helps us to reflect on our long lives with them and after they were gone. Among those resting under the stone is the late Alfred N. Vaughan Jr., Kaye’s brother, who lost his life in Italy on June 22, 1944, while serving his country. He was a very special young man, just 20 years old when he died. His photograph on our living-room wall is a constant reminder.

Calvin Castine and I were honored to be allowed to videotape events connected with the first North Country Honor Flight from Plattsburgh to Washington, D.C., on May 18. We joined the group before sunrise at the Old Base Oval and rode with them aboard their bus to the Albany International Airport. The support for this amazing project to embrace these World War II veterans while they are still with us is heartwarming and wonderful. Interviewing them during the bus ride as we looked out at the large motorcycle and law-enforcement escort along the way made us all so glad. Seeing the fire trucks with lights flashing and people waving from the overpasses was special.

The reception at the Albany Airport was, to say the least, overwhelming. Hundreds of people clapping and cheering, live music from the U.S Army band, speeches and accolades of all kinds. The North Country veterans were joined by the Leatherstocking group, and Albany-area media were present enforce to chronicle the occasion. 

Calvin and I had to leave and come home when the veterans and their entourage took off for Baltimore, bound for their World War II Memorial in Washington. We have been invited to make the next flight out of Plattsburgh in June and were thrilled to accept.

Before I wrote this on Tuesday, Calvin posted more than three hours of our Hometown Cable “Our Little Corner” video on the Internet at hometowncablenetwork.com. It will also be scheduled later on the local cable systems. Kaye and I watched every minute of it, as we reflected on our own lives and those of our family and friends from what has been called the Greatest Generation. We shed tears of joy and patriotism as the band played and the veterans saluted a 48-star American flag, unfurled especially for this occasion.

Kaye looked at me when the screen went dark and said, “It kind of brings it all back, doesn’t it?” Yes, it does. We’ll place that flowering plant on the grave today and will say another prayer. We hope you do the same.

Our special thanks to the North Country Honor Flight organizers, veterans organizations and all those who are allowing these wonderful men and women to be recognized for their contributions. We also offer up our gratitude to all those who served and died for the freedoms we enjoy today.

We owe so much to those who traveled the road before us and paved the way by making the ultimate sacrifice. We must all do our best to secure the future of those who follow.

Have a great day and please, drive carefully as you remember the true meaning of Memorial Day.

Gordie Little was for many years a well-known radio personality in the North Country and now hosts the “Our Little Corner” television program for Home Town Cable. Anyone with comments for him may send them to the newspaper or email him at gordandk@aol.com.