GOSHEN – Twice a year, members of the Minisink Valley High School, Junior ROTC honor Orange County’s veterans who have passed on by placing American flags at each grave at the county cemetery in Goshen.
The students visited the cemetery on Tuesday in commemoration of Memorial Day. They also place flags on the more than 3,000 graves during the December holiday season.
Joining them were County Executive Steven Neuhaus, just back from his latest deployment as a lieutenant commander, and Christian Farrell, the county’s veterans’ services director, himself an Army veteran.
“This event is an important Memorial Day remembrance, reminding us all to pay tribute to the servicemen and women who gave their lives in defense of our freedoms. We owe them our deepest respect and gratitude and should never take their sacrifices for granted,” said Neuhaus.
Farrell is pleased to see the respect and patriotism demonstrated by the high school students who participate in the ritual.
Memorial Day, originally known as Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in service to the United States.
In 1966, Congress and President Lyndon Johnson declared Waterloo, N.Y. the “birthplace” of Memorial Day. A ceremony on May 5, 1866, honored local veterans in Waterloo who had fought in the Civil War.
According to the County’s Veterans’ Services Agency, 832 Orange County residents have died serving our country in World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam and the post-911 conflicts in Iraq, the Persian Gulf, and Afghanistan.
“May is a special month at the Orange County Veterans Memorial Cemetery as we recognize and honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice,” Farrell said. “The cemetery always looks very dignified during the Memorial Day weekend thanks to the work of the dedicated cemetery staff and the help of volunteers such as the Minisink Valley JROTC who make sure every grave is marked with an American flag.”