After their duty on the field of battle is done, veterans face an equally daunting task in transitioning back into civilian life.
The Jamestown Community College Veterans Committee held a ceremony and luncheon on Monday afternoon to recognize those veterans that attend the college as well as all those who have served in the United States armed forces.
The event's emcee was Colonel Theresa Baginski, who also works as a teacher at Jamestown Community College. Prior to any speeches, Vietnam Veterans and Veterans of Modern Warfare posted the colors and the national anthem was sung by Victoria McIlvain. Rob Lyon, president of the JCC Student Veterans Club, led the attendees in the Pledge Of Allegiance.
Colonel Vince Horrigan presents Scott Baglia, who had previously been a member of the United States Air Force for nearly 20 years, with a flag that was ceremonially folded in thanks for his service.
P-J photo by Ryan Atkins
Greg Decinque, president of Jamestown Community College, gave the opening remarks before lunch was served.
"This is very touching to be here today among all of these individuals who have served our country," said DeCinque. "I was touched when I asked Chief Snellings if he knew of anyone here that had served in WWII and he marched me out to meet the Sergeant Major that led the color guard out. When I think back to what has created the opportunity that I have had in this great country, it clearly goes like a laser to those who, since the inception of this country, have been willing to put their own lives at risk and provide any service in order to make this the great country that it is. As I think back to my formative years, I know that much of what I am today is a result of the way that my father raised me as a result of the things that he faced as a young man being in harm's way. It's amazing what those people throughout history have done to protect this country of ours."
In remembrance of all of the prisoners of war and those missing in action, a small table was placed at the front of the room. According to Baginski, the single table for one was symbolic of the frailty of a soldier against an army of oppressors, adorned with a white table cloth to represent the purity of their intentions, a single rose in a vase for the family and loved ones of the soldiers with a yellow ribbon tied around the face for the thousands that support the troops and a slice of lemon on a plate for the bitter fate of war. The drinking glass on the table was left inverted since the missing soldiers could not toast with the veterans in attendance on Monday.
After lunch was served, Harry Snellings, chief of the Jamestown Police Department, was brought to the podium as a guest speaker. Snellings, who recently retired from the United States Army after 21 years of service, was involved in three overseas deployments. He participated in Operation Sea Signal at Guantanamo Bay, Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
"George Washington stated that war must be carried out systematically and to do that you must have men of character activated by principals of honor," said Snellings. "That's what makes our armed forces the best in the world. It's comprised of people from all walks of life that embody character and honor. Throughout the span of a 21 year career, you have the opportunity to serve in a variety of assignments, work with, and meet a lot of people. I could share with you hours of stories that would make you laugh, make you proud, but more importantly reveal the character of those that serve in our armed forces."
Snellings continued, "There's a new generation of men and women serving our country, a generation that has served during a time of conflict that has spanned more than 11 years now. Whether they've served in combat or maintained the homefront, their commitment is paramount to the nation's security. Let's make sure that we continue to do our part to support them as they return and transition back into the civilian sector. In closing, I want to thank every veteran in here today for all of your untold sacrifices and for serving one of the noblest professions. For all of the family members of veterans, we also want to thank you. It is often you who suffers more and goes unrecognized. Always look out for each other and take care of each other. May God bless America and those who defend it."
During the ceremony Colonel Vince Horrigan also presented Scott Baglia, who had previously been a member of the United States Air Force for nearly 20 years, with a flag that was ceremonially folded in thanks for his service.
For more information about veteran's services available at Jamestown Community College, contact Patricia Tackentien, veterans coordinator, by calling 338-1018 or sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.