AMSTERDAM -- A massive wave of purple and gold that was the annual Veterans Day parade rolled down Guy Park Avenue on Sunday as city residents crowded on the sidewalks to watch the spectacle and pay homage to those who have served in the United States military.
The parade began at approximately 10:30 a.m. at the intersection of Guy Park Avenue and Henrietta Street.
Families watched from their front porches as the parade moved down the street while others walked in time with the parade, taking pictures of the marchers and filming.
Those who marched on Sunday included veterans organizations, the Amsterdam Police Department Color Guard, re-enactors from the Fyfes & Drumms of Olde Saratoga, the Amsterdam Fire Department, the Amsterdam High School Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps cadets and the Amsterdam Marching Rams.
The parade continued west to the West End World War I Memorial, and was immediately followed by a ceremony that commemorated the actions of local veterans over the years. Speakers urged listeners to use the day as a chance to do a good deed.
The American Legion John Wyszomirski Post 701 was honored during the ceremony for its efforts in supporting local veterans, and granted a citation from city officials.
Sunday's ceremony after the parade started with a rendition of the national anthem and the Pledge of Allegiance.
Mayor Michael Villa thanked marchers and spectators for attending the events on the chilly Sunday morning, and also acknowledged the event organizers.
"To all veterans, past, present and those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, God bless you, and God bless the United States of America," he said.
Amsterdam Veterans Commission Chairman Anthony Leggiero commended the veterans he has worked with for years for helping to put the parade together.
Veterans Day, he said, should be a day of remembrance. But a recent experience with a fellow veteran broadened his perspective.
Leggiero, who served in the Army for over 20 years in both the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, told the assembled crowd a story about a recent trip he took to Albany for a show at the Times Union Center.
While waiting to go inside the venue, he saw a man giving directions to a couple that was also waiting to get inside. Leggiero discovered that the man was an Iraq War veteran, and that he was homeless. It was at that point, Leggiero said, that he realized Veterans Day needed to be about more than thanking veterans, because not every veteran was lucky enough to come home to an actual home when their service is completed.
"But now, I'm home. They're home," he said, gesturing to all of the veterans who surrounded him at the podium. "We are home. But today, we need to pay it forward," he said.
"Pay it forward today. A coffee, a simple thank you, whatever it may be," he said.
Dorothy Jager, a member of the Amsterdam Veterans Commission, served in the Air Force in the Vietnam War.
Jager explained that it had been her desire to serve overseas. But at the time, she said, the only female service members who were deployed overseas to Vietnam were in the medical field, which she was not.
Regardless, she said, Veterans Day as it stands today is meant to be inclusive, and to honor all men and women who have served in any branch of the military, regardless of where they were stationed.
"Today is the day we honor the noble and the brave. When you see a veteran, thank them," she said.