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Honoring veterans

By Jolanda Bassi
November 9, 2016

Just recently a “For Sale” sign appeared on the Veterans Memorial Hall at Liberty and North streets in Monticello. Perhaps this is a good thing in that veterans have fewer needs today for such a building. Perhaps it is a sad thing that veterans are just not being remembered enough for their contribution to keeping America free.

Coincidentally, the Sullivan County Historical Society is opening a new exhibit at the museum in Hurleyville on Saturday, November 19, with a reception from 2 to 4 p.m. This new gallery celebrates Sullivan County veterans. Associate curator Sharon Thorpe has assembled uniforms and memorabilia from the Civil War through Desert Storm. A special area is dedicated to Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Francis Currey, a long time resident of Sullivan County.

I remember in my past several stories about veterans. One story was connected to the burial of an unknown soldier. Living hero soldiers placed their own medals on the drifter’s coffin before he was placed in a pauper’s grave, left nameless. This story makes the display of so many military uniforms special. It pays tribute to people who served this country honorably, with pride and great success and honors new service men and women who continue the tradition.

Another story was told to me of an 80-year-old American veteran who was visiting Belgium and needed to see a doctor. Upon entering the waiting room, the doctor, who was expecting this old soldier, came out into the waiting room and announced: “Here comes the American!” In unity, all the other patients got up and one by one thanked this representative of the U.S. military. They let him go first and later wished him well.

Visitors to the museum, whether they attend the opening or come by at a later date, all have their own reasons to feel the pride and patriotism celebrating their family connections. These uniforms provoke memories about our families’ and nation’s history as we take the opportunity to silently respect and pay tribute to this history. You can find more information at www.scnyhistory.org, or call 845/434-8044.

[Jolanda (Joli) Bassi is a Sullivan County Historical Society volunteer, and resides in Monticello, NY.]