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Paying tribute to those who made the ultimate sacrifice


By Melanie Lekocevic

Capital Region Independent Media

Wreaths were placed outside the New Baltimore firehouse in honor of the fallen on Memorial Day. Melanie Lekocevic/Capital Region Independent Media

NEW BALTIMORE — Those who made the ultimate sacrifice in battle were memorialized at an annual ceremony in New Baltimore on Monday.

Each year, the communities of Coeymans, Ravena and New Baltimore rotate the location of the annual Memorial Day service. This year’s ceremony was held at the New Baltimore firehouse on Gill Road.

American Legion Post 1614 Commander Dan LaMora was the master of ceremonies, and the invocation was performed by Chaplain Jim Evans from the American Legion and commander of AmVets in Ravena.

Memorial Day, LaMora told the crowd, was originally known as Decoration Day, and can trace its roots back to the War Between the States.

“This national holiday started right after the end of the Civil War,” LaMora said. “Mothers, fathers, wives, brothers and sisters, and all family members went to the graves of soldiers from both the North and the South to place flowers and wreaths on the graves. That tradition has extended today; we still do the same — place flags and flowers on our loved ones’ graves.”

Commander Dan LaMora from American Legion Post 1614 served as master of ceremonies. Melanie Lekocevic/Capital Region Independent Media

The holiday’s name was changed to Memorial Day in 1971, and the date was also changed from May 30 to the last Monday in May. The day is specifically meant to honor those who died in battle.

“Memorial Day is the day that we honor all those veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country,” LaMora said. “We would not be able to enjoy the freedoms that we have today if it wasn’t for them. These brave men and women took the time and when their country called, they answered the call, and when they went into battle, they made the ultimate sacrifice.”

Greene County Legislature Chairman Pat Linger, R-New Baltimore, said those sacrifices have enabled us to retain the freedoms that we have today.

“We really thank the people who came before us and gave their lives so we can do things like what we are doing here today — celebrating the fact that they were able to do that for us,” Linger said. “It’s why we have the rights that we have, it’s why we have to keep fighting and never give up our rights.”

The color guard and auxiliary from Unitas Memorial Veterans Association, formerly VFW Post 9594 in Ravena, at the ceremony in New Baltimore. Melanie Lekocevic/Capital Region Independent Media

Ravena residents and Korea War veterans Eugene Datri and Michael Albano were on hand for the ceremony, as they are every year. Master of ceremonies Commander Dan LaMora, from American Legion Post 1614, paid tribute to their service and their contributions to their community in the decades since.

“These gentlemen have done so much for our community and so much for all of the soldiers, sailors, air force and the Marines, and they have always been there — every single year to commemorate this day, Veterans Day, and to honor their brothers and sisters who made the ultimate sacrifice,” LaMora said. “It is my honor and my pleasure to say thank you, gentlemen, so much.”

Datri and Albano recalled their service after the ceremony — Datri served in the U.S. Army and Albano in the U.S. Navy. They knew each other back home in Ravena and were shocked when they ran into each other in Korea.

“When I was getting off the boat to serve in Korea, I met him — it is very unusual that you meet someone from your hometown, and we knew each other back home,” Datri said. “I got off the boat and there he was.”

Eugene Datri, left, and Michael Albano, both of Ravena, served in the Korean War and met each other while in the service. They remain close friends to this day. Melanie Lekocevic/Capital Region Independent Media

Albano said meeting someone from back home was priceless.

“Being over there, it was a risky place, and to run into someone from your hometown — it was just wonderful,” Albano said.

The two men have been fast friends ever since.

“We are like brothers,” Albano said.

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