Goshen observes 100th anniversary of the Armistice, decries political corruption

Goshen observes 100th anniversary of the Armistice, decries present-day political corruption and divisiveness

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  • Commander of VFW Post 1708 Ray Quattrini with his granddaughters Samara Quattrini, 8, on the left and McKenna Hackbarth, 5, after they led the Pledge of Allegiance (Photo by Geri Corey)

  • The Rifle Bearer stands guard at the Veterans Day ceremony in Goshen (Photo by Geri Corey)

  • The Color and Rifle Bearers at the service in Goshen (Photo by Geri Corey)

  • Lauren Luck of Goshen delivers a beautiful rendition of “God Bless America.” She later sang “America the Beautiful,” equally as moving. (Photo by Geri Corey)

  • Goshen resident Mark Gargiulo delivers an inspirational rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner” (Photo by Geri Corey)

By Geri Corey

— This Veterans Day marks the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Armistice signaling the end of World War I, called “The War to End All Wars” and “The Great War.”

The Armistice, signed on Nov. 11, 1918, was first observed since 1926 as Armistice Day until 1954 when President Dwight Eisenhower signed legislation changing the name to Veterans Day, honoring veterans of all wars.

The United States entered the war in 1917 “to make the world safe for democracy,” said Jim Heslop, Commander of the Goshen American Legion Post 377, in his remarks to the assembled crowd at Veterans Day services. The nation joined allies Belgium, France, Great Britain, Russia, and Serbia. Starting in 1914 with the killing of the heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary, Archduke Francis Ferdinand and his wife Sophie, the war concluded with the armistice on Nov. 11, 1918. With new weapons — tanks, airplanes, flame throwers, submarines, and “the most horrific of all the new weapons, gas and chemical weapons,” Heslop said.

The war was bloody and costly, he said. By enhancing communication, telephone and radio usage also had a significant impact on the war. All of these weapons were improved for use during World War II.

This year there’s an added reason to be grateful. On Sept. 16, 1919, Congress chartered the American Legion. The Legion is now entering its 100th year.

The American Legion, formed by members of the World War I American Expeditionary Forces in Paris, was instrumental in creating the Veterans Bureau, now called the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the GI Bill of Rights, along with helping to start the American Heart Association and National Association for Mental Health. The American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars, in existence for 119-years, have helped veterans and their families for many years.

This year’s Veterans Day observance in Goshen, held at the monument on South Church Street — which honors those who served in the armed forces, many whom made the ultimate sacrifice in World War I, World War II, the Korean Conflict, the Vietnam War, and the Persian Gulf War — boasted clear skies, but it was cold and windy. Observing the ceremony were Cub and Boy Scouts of Troop 63 and their families, public town and village officials, residents, and veterans. They all made what seemed to be a record number of people.

Ray Quattrini, Commander of Goshen Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1708, led the color and rifle bearers to begin the inspiring program. Jim Heslop, Commander of the Goshen American Legion Post 377 acted as adjutant. The ceremony began at 11 a.m. completing the historic date of 11-11-11 — the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.

The event was beautifully led off by Mark Gargiulo’s inspirational rendition of the national anthem, “The Star Spangled Banner.” Lauren Luck blessed the crowd with her rendition of “God Bless America.”

Commander Quattrini and his two granddaughters, Samara Quattrini, 8, and McKenna Hackbarth, 5, led the Pledge of Allegiance this year.

“It doesn’t get any better than this,” a proud grandfather remarked.

After The Rev. David Calvin Kingsley, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Goshen, gave the invocation, Deputy Village Mayor Pete Smith, who served for 26 years in the Army, spoke.

“Veterans should be honored and respected every day," said Smith. "They come in all sizes and shapes and all suffer from PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) regardless of how they served.”

Smith noted the high rate of suicide among veterans.

Commander Heslop said, “On this day we commemorate the service of our veterans in all wars; we remember how many of them set aside their civilian pursuits to serve their nation’s cause, defending the freedom of our American heritage and freedom for all people wherever they live....We must strive for peace throughout the world for all people. Today the members of our armed forces have volunteered to serve their country in our military; let us be ever grateful to all who have served and those serving our country in our armed forces today.”

'A corrupt political machine'Is there a difference between nationalism and patriotism? Yes, said Commander Quattrini as he concluded the Veterans Day talks.

“More so today than any other time in our history, patriotism is misconstrued as an allegiance to a political entity," Quattrini said. "Politics is a matter of nationalism, not to be confused with patriotism. There was a time in this country when the principles of patriotism and nationalism were compatible ideals. When Americans were united in a commitment that government is for the people, by the people. We are no longer that country. The sad reality is that nationalism has surrendered its values to the shameful exploits of a corrupt political machine. Placing itself above good and evil, it recognizes no other responsibility than that of advancing its own interests and maintain dominance over all within reach. The determination of present-day nationalists is to escalate self-aggrandizement to secure more power, more repute, more privilege, regardless of consequence to the citizens they pledged to serve.”

He went on to say, “Those of us who consider ourselves American patriots will not acquiesce to the divisiveness of bias governance, not accept the injustice and prejudice of elite rule, assent to depravity in leadership, nor will be concede that God holds no position in our institutions.”

Quattrini concluded by noting that military veterans understand the convictions of democracy. He recited an excerpt from their oath that soldiers swear to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

“This fervent oath will never fade from their conscience," he said. "It will remain in their hearts and dwell in their souls all the days of their lives, reassurance that they are worthy American patriots.

So whenever you look upon that standard of America’s heritage, that symbol for God and Country, let it bring to mind these honorable men and women who endured and survived the struggle for our liberties. Thank them and thank all who uphold the principles for which it stands.”

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