'Bus Trip' Aross Utica Honors Veterans

Chris Urban & Vernon Harris
Utica Mayor Robert Palmieri and Worl War II veteran Phil Capraro at the Soldiers and Sailors Monument.

UTICA, Nov. 11, 2012 – One television news report called it the Veterans Day Bus Trip.

But it was a trip to six monuments around Utica to remember the sacrifices of veterans.

"As much as Veterans Day is important for honoring the sacrifices of veterans, it's for families who sacrificed, too," Utica Post 229 Commander Chris Urban told one TV reporter. He pointed to the "anguish of families" worrying about a loved one in harm's way. "Every veteran is someone's son or daughter, mom or dad, neice or nephew."

Coorindated by Utica Post 229 in partnership with other veterans organizations, the annual observance began with a wreath-laying and prayers at Utica Post. Then veterans and auxiliary members packed the Centro Bus and headed to the Soldiers and Sailors Monument at Oneida Square, where Utica Mayor Robert Palmieri and World War II Bronz Star and Purple Heart recipient Phil Capraro placed the wreath.

Next stop was the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the Parkway, where Gold Star Mother Mary Wheeler and Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter President Tom Buono laid the wreath. Buono spoke in memory of Vietnam War Gold Star Mother Shirley Jones who passed away last month and who was a faithful participant in Memorial Day and Veterans Day activities.

A little further up the Parkway was the POW/MIA Memorial. Reired Army Chaplain Col. Gary Howard and retired Chaplain's Assistant Sgt. 1st Class Timothy Morrell prayed for closure for those still missing, and representatives from several veterans groups placed the wreath. Later, after the ceremonies, Howard mentioned that the POW/MIA Memorial stood out for him this year. "There are so many unresolved issues," with "hundreds of thousands of broken hearts that have not been able to receive any closure."

The group then proceeded by foot a short distance to the World War I/World War II/Korean War Monument, where Post Commander Urban and Auxiliary President Peggie Kohler laid the wreath.

Back on the bus, the group traveled to Purple Heart Park in West Utica, where Marine Corps Veteran Vin Egresits and former Air Force pilot Shirley Eadline from Congressman Richard Hanna's office placed the wreath.

The final stop was at the All Veterans Monument at the main post office on PItcher Street, where County Executive Anthony Picente and Gold Star Mother Mary Wheeler placed the final wreath.

The group returned to Post 229 for lunch and comaraderie.

Among the organizations involved in the day were Military Order of the Purple Heart, Vietnam Veterans of American, Disabled American Veterans, and Polish League of American Veterans.