LARCHMONT, N.Y. -- A single candle flickered on a table set for one at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 347 in Larchmont Friday night to remember those service men and women missing in action or imprisoned in foreign lands.
"It is set for one, symbolizing the fact that members of our armed forces are missing from our ranks," said Paul Kearns, post commander, at their annual Veterans Day ceremony. "They are referred to as POWs and MIAs. We call them comrades. They are unable to be with their loved ones and families, so we join together to pay honorable tribute to them."
Post 347 always leaves one chair empty at their regular meetings, but they set up the table every Veterans Day because, Kearns said, it's a special day to remember all veterans. "It's very important to all the men and women of this country," he said. "If it wasn't for the veterans, past and present, we wouldn't enjoy all of the freedoms we do today."
While Kearns served in the Navy from 1972 to 1980, Ralph Lucarelli served in the Infantry Division of the Army from 1957-1963. Like Kearns, Veterans Day is a time to remember the sacrifices of the U.S. armed forces for Lucarelli. "It means a lot to me. It's nice to honor and appreciate people that have put their lives on the line."
Several speakers noted how important it is to keep these memories alive, including New York State Assemblyman George Latimer, who said it's his mission to educate the youth about what true sacrifice is.
"Every day should be a Veterans Day," said Ronald Tocci, former NYS Commissioner of Veterans Affairs, who delivered the keynote address. "If we're going to have a future generation who believes in what this country is all about, we need to teach our young people."
Other dignitaries present included Town Supervisor Valerie O'Keeffe, Town Supervisor Elect Nancy Seligson, Councilman Ernest Odierna and Larchmont Trustee Jaine Elkind Eney.
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