New York’s first Medal of Honor Parade welcomed in Putnam

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Medal of Honor recipients Robert O’Malley and Paul Bucha served
grand marshals of the parade in Carmel

CARMEL – Old Glory never looked more radiant than it did Saturday
when hundreds of marchers were greeted by scores of bystanders in the
Putnam County seat for New York State’s first Medal of Honor Parade.

Putnam, New York State’s first Purple Heart County known for its
majestic Row of Honor along the Gleneida lakeshore, was selected to host
the festivities due to its love and affection for America’s veterans.

The Medal of Honor is the United States’ highest and most prestigious
personal military decoration that is awarded to recognize members of the
service who distinguished themselves by acts of valor.

The medal is normally awarded by the President of the U.S. in the name
of Congress.

The parade not only honored two Medal of Honor recipients, Paul Bucha
and Robert O’Malley, but all veterans in addition to those serving
in the emergency services field.

County Executive MaryEllen Odell welcomed a crowd of several hundred who
gathered around the steps of the historic Putnam Courthouse telling them
“Putnam County is a special place – a community that loves
its veterans and provides them with a myriad of services thanks in part
to Karl Rohde and Art Hanley, two proud Americans who work day and night
in assuring that our veterans receive what they deserve.”

Rita Cosby, founder of the New York State Medal of Honor Committee, described
the day as “fantastic. What a tribute to Putnam County and Carmel
for hosting this incredible journey that has taken 10 years to reach fruition.
America’s real heroes are those standing with us today wearing a
uniform of the United States military. These are the brave men and women
who are children and grandchildren should look up to. Of the nearly 900
Medal of Honor recipients since World War II, 666 recipients are residents
of New York State. That says something special.”

Bucha’s remarks centered on a personal campaign that reminds people
“when you see a veteran thank him or her. Only some things are valuable
while going through life – not money or wealth or property. The
most important thing we have is time. When you see a soldier in uniform
walk up to him and ask, ‘What can I do for you? Where are you from?’
When you receive that reply, you will be moved to your soul because the
servicemen and women serving this great country are entitled to all we
can do for them. If we can teach each other to talk with civility towards
each other just think how great and wonderful our country could become.
We must come together as a country. Time is over for calling each other
names. Our military has inspired us with their service and their integrity
and all that they represent. This is what we honor today.”

Prior to the parade, three dozen newly recruited Army soldiers from across
the state took their oaths of office at a ceremony at the Paladin Center,
which served as a staging area for the parade.