ITHACA, N.Y. — “For every single man and woman who has donned a U.S. Military uniform by virtue of their service and sacrifice, today’s their day to stand tall and be recognized by a grateful nation,” Roger Rumsey, speaking on behalf of Finger Lakes VFW Post 961, said Sunday at the Tompkins County Veterans Day Ceremony.

A large crowd of more than 100 people gathered at Dewitt Park on Sunday to honor veterans at a special Veterans Day Ceremony, as this year marks 100 years since the end of World War I, the “war to end all wars.” Veterans Day, which honors the men and women who have served and currently serve in the U.S. military, originated as “Armistice Day” on Nov. 11, 1919.

Lisa LaDieu performs the national anthem and “God Bless America.” (Photo by Kelsey O’Connor/The Ithaca Voice)

At the start of the ceremony, cub scouts led the pledge of allegiance. After, Lisa LaDieu sang the “Star Spangled Banner” and “God Bless America.” After, Rumsey addressed the crowd before rituals were performed and the rifle salute.

Below is a selection of the speech Rumsey gave at the ceremony Sunday.

“Even nearly 100 years later as we gather to reflect on those who have fought to protect the freedoms every American enjoys, there are thousands of men and women in our military once again taking up arms against the enemies of our way of life. Like generations of patriots who came before them, these few shoulder the burden for many. They serve because they know it is necessary for the greater good. Now, more than ever it is important that we take time to thank the men and women who selflessly sacrifice to serve in our armed forces. It is because of their dedication and sacrifice that we celebrate Veterans Day to recognize and honor all those who have placed country above self, who have determined the safety and security of others is more important than their own, and who have done their duty by taking their place in line just as generations of military men and women have done before them.

To those of us who have worn or continue to wear the uniform of our great country and to our family members who stand just as strong at home, there’s no doubt that Veterans Day brings with it meaningful significance. To every American veteran, Veterans Day means much more than just a federal holiday. It is on this day when we honor the contributions and sacrifices of the more than 22 million veterans and service members who have proudly served our country and all those who paid the ultimate sacrifice in the name of liberty and justice.

Every generation of Americans undoubtedly owes a debt of gratitude to these brave patriots. And we must do everything we can to make sure the men and women who serve in today and tomorrow’s military receive what they need to accomplish their mission of safeguarding America’s interests. As an organization comprised solely upon people who have been there ourselves, we are well prepared as circumstances and necessity demands.

Our military stands ready to do whatever is needed to defend our nation just as we at the VFW stand ready to provide them with the support and assistance they need long after their service is over. Our men and women in uniform today share the same military ideals and experiences of yesterday’s veterans. They chose to serve because they have a common belief in a cause higher than themselves, a shared sense of duty, they willingly assume all risk associated with their maintaining our freedom and liberties and preserving the ideals of democracy.

More than anyone, veterans understand the real meaning of America, maintaining the strength of the American ideal requires courage, constant vigilance as well as sacrifice. There should be no doubt that without the sacrifice of our veterans, without their love and dedication of spirit, tyrants and evil would prevail. If we could make any demand, I would demand my fellow citizens grant our keepers of peace and protectors of our freedoms, our veterans, with the care and respect they so richly and rightfully deserve.

Those of us who care to honor America’s heroes gather because we are honoring our sons and daughters, our mothers, our fathers, and our brothers and our sisters who are serving on behalf of everyone for our great country just like the generations of American patriots did before them. Time and again our country is confronted with countless challenges and I know we will face many more in the days and years ahead, but the citizens of our great nation can rest assured that our values and freedom are being fearlessly guarded by a greatly determined and highly dedicated military. Gallant soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines and coast guardsmen who willingly bear the cost of America’s wars and continue to stand and watch over America’s peace. For every single man and woman who has donned a U.S. Military uniform by virtue of their service and sacrifice, today’s their day to stand tall and be recognized by a grateful nation.

Today and every day, we must take the opportunity to keep alive the memory, sacrifices, and accomplishments of our nation’s veterans and we must embrace every occasion to educate future generations, the public, and elected officials on the accomplishments, importance, and needs of our nation’s veterans. I hope as we leave here today, each of us will be motivated and inspired by the deeds and accomplishments of patriots, past and present. I hope this motivation will help us, lead us into a brighter future armed with a renewed sense of patriotism and purpose. We must remain committed to a stronger nation and to our veterans for it is our veterans who have sacrificed and paid the highest price for all of us.”

Roger C. Rumsey, quartermaster and past commander, VFW Post 961.

Featured image: Johnny Russo performs “Taps” to close the Veterans Day Ceremony. (Photo by Kelsey O’Connor/The Ithaca Voice)

Kelsey O'Connor

Kelsey O'Connor is the managing editor for the Ithaca Voice. Questions? Story tips? Contact her at koconnor@ithacavoice.com and follow her on Twitter @bykelseyoconnor.