Dutchess County Executive Marcus Molinaro greets Tesan
HYDE PARK – Five veterans, including a 100-year-old World War II vet, were honored Saturday at Dutchess County’s 10th annual Veteran’s Appreciation Day held at the FDR Library in Hyde Park.
Victor Tesan, 100, was among those presented medals they earned that were lost to time and piles of documentation.
The veterans were individually acknowledged for their accomplishments and had their medals pinned on them by their local elected officials, including County Executive Marc Molinaro and Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney (D, NY18).
The pinning of war medals, during a ceremony, is something Dutchess Veteran’s Affairs Director Nelson Eddie Rivera believes to be very important and said it is the reason Veteran’s Appreciation Day is so special to the veterans who receive medals.
“I firmly believe that if they would’ve gotten it [the medals] while they were on active duty, it would have been presented and pinned on them and I feel that’s the way they should still get them,” said Rivera. “I don’t believe in sending them in the mail; I just don’t think it’s appropriate. They served their country, they should get their medals pinned and that’s how we started with this many years ago and as you saw today, it’s just an amazing moment for a lot of these veterans.”
Rivera said, when possible, they try to arrange the ceremony so that the honored veterans are surprised by their medal presentation.
Honored Korean War Veteran John Lee said, “I didn’t expect all this. You know, when you get a phone call, ‘Can you be there?’ I said yea, I can be there; I didn’t expect all this.”
Lee added that having his wife, grandchildren and Boy Scout troop present added to the surprise and that is was, “A real tear-jerker.”
Sgt. Andrew Castro, another of the honored veterans, said he too was pleasantly surprised.
“It was nice,” said Castro. “Like I said, I didn’t know what to expect. It wasn’t among fellow military people but, then again, it was; so, I was nervous but, I liked it. It was good.”
The veritable star of the show, Mr. Tesan, was not surprised. Due to
obvious concerns regarding his age and well-being, he was informed of
the ceremony far in advance but, that didn’t make the ceremony any
less meaningful to him.
Tesan, who had an excerpt of his war memoires read by his son-in-law and was joined in recognition by his wife of 73 years, Celeste, simply said, “Thank you very much, all of you, for paying so much attention.”
Other veterans honored with past medals were Specialist Thomas Miller and the U.S. Navy’s Demetris Apollo.