October 24, 2021

‘It’s about the sacrifice’

Cortland ceremony honors those who died in wars

Photos by Kevin Conlon/contributing photographer

Sam Fish of Cortlandville, shown wearing his grandfather’s uniform from World War I, walks away after placing a wreath at the Courthouse Park memorial honoring those killed in the nation’s wars during Monday’s Memorial Day ceremony in Cortland.

CORTLAND — Sam Fish of Cortlandville stood at attention, wearing his grandfather’s World War I uniform and steel helmet, as the names of local residents with military backgrounds who died in the past year were read Monday afternoon during a Memorial Day ceremony.

Fish, who was a Navy reservist, later laid a wreath at the monument honoring soldiers from Cortland County who had died in World War I.

It was among the wreaths that uniformed representatives placed at the monuments to those who had died in the nation’s wars.

Sam Fish pays his respects during Monday’s Memorial Day activities in Courthouse Park in Cortland.

“Lest we forget,” Fish said afterward. “It’s about the sacrifice of the men and women of our nation. We need to remember and reinforce their sacrifice.”

An audience of more than 100 people looked on during the annual ceremony in Courthouse Park off Church Street.

Patrick Perfetti, the Cortland County District Attorney who served nearly 30 years in the Navy reserve, gave the keynote speech, explaining his military background and telling of fellow members of the military who died in combat while he served in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Former Cortland librarian Warren Eddy read the names of local veterans who died in the past year.

Mike Dexter, a Navy veteran, read General Order No. 11 written in 1868 by Gen. John Logan, commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, which talked about the need to pay tribute to those that died defending the United States.

This led to the establishment of a holiday initially known as Decoration Day, now known as Memorial Day.

The service at Courthouse Park followed one held outside the Veterans of Foreign Wars post on Main Street in Cortland.

Other ceremonies were held in Cincinnatus, Dryden, Groton, Homer, Marathon, McGraw, Preble, Scott and Truxton. Events in Dryden, Homer, Marathon, McGraw, Preble and Truxton also included parades.

Visitors scattered across area cemeteries, some of them sprucing up the grave sites of family members, including veterans, many of whom survived military conflicts and died years later from other causes.