“Pride, honor and gratitude:” College observes Memorial Day with annual wreath-laying ceremony

20160531-1_Memorial Day Wreath Laying Ceremony_38SUNY New Paltz community members took time to honor fallen heroes at the annual Memorial Day wreath-laying ceremony, held beneath the flag poles outside the Haggerty Administration Building on May 31.

The event, organized by the Office of Veteran & Military Services, offers an opportunity for the hundreds of veterans, service members and dependents who are either enrolled as students or employed by the College to come together with civilian colleagues and reflect on the meaning of service and sacrifice.

This year’s ceremony was emceed by Niza Cardona, director of Student Accounts, who performed this duty in lieu of Veteran & Military Services Coordinator Jason Gilliland, a service member whose commitment annual military training kept him from attending the campus wreath-laying.

“The essence of today’s program is to pay homage to all the brave American service members who have given the ultimate sacrifice for this great nation,” Cardona said, before moving on to deliver remarks on Gilliland’s behalf:

“Today we actively remember our ancestors, our loved ones, our neighbors and our friends, the brave soldiers, sailors, fliers and Marines who died protecting their country and what it stands for. To observe this day as it should be requires us to visit cemeteries and memorials; to participate in the National Moment of Remembrance, and pause and think about the true meaning of the day; and to renew out pledge to aid the widows, widowers and orphans of our fallen, as well as our disabled veterans.”

Keynote remarks were offered by alumnus and combat veteran Thomas Pulaski ’15 (Marketing) ‘16g (Business Administration).

“On days like this our words often fail us; no matter how genuine the intent or intense the desire, the spoken word does no justice to the depth of emotion,” Pulaski said. “Having personally experienced the loss of three heroes, my friends and teammates, Memorial Day is a day that I recognize through pride, honor and gratitude. Pride, for having known and served alongside men and women of such valor and merit; honor, for the strength and support of their families and friends; and gratitude, that countless men and women, myself included, were able to return home safely and pursue our dreams.”

Pulaski was then joined by Timothy Toomey ’17 (Political Science), also a combat veteran, in laying the ceremonial wreath at the base of the flag, as fellow student Nick Summers ’16 (Mathematics, Music – Jazz Performance) gave his rendering of “Taps” on trumpet. William Hennessey, Inter-library Loan clerk for the Sojourner Truth Library and a former service member, performed “Amazing Grace” on bagpipes.

More information about Veteran & Military Services at SUNY New Paltz is available online.