Shotwell Park, Skaneateles New York, Veterans Day

November 14, 2010 at 5:20 pm 1 comment

A view of the lake from Shotwell Park

I was driving along Route 20 last Thursday and stopped in Skaneateles to observe a beautiful display of American flags in the park, by the lake. It was an unusually sunny day, as I wandered through taking pictures, I thought about my Dad and the role he played in serving his country.

Veteran's Day Display, Skaneateles New York

Sun, blue sky, and the Red, White and Blue

Veteran's Day Display

Flags on display in Shotwell Park, Skaneateles

Veteran's Day Display, Skaneateles New York

Late Afternoon sillouettes

This was what I found in the newspaper:

“This Veterans Day, more than 125 American flags decorated Shotwell Memorial Park in the village of Skaneateles. The Skaneateles High School girls’ lacrosse team sold the flags for $30 each and put them in the park in honor of or in memory of a veteran of the buyers’ choice.”

My Dad grew up in Skaneateles, New York, and is a veteran of WWII. Here is an excerpt from his autobiography on his Army experience:

Skanealteles War Memorial

Lester Leonard, my Dad, on the War Memorial in Shotwell Park

“When you are drafted in to the armed services, you start at the bottom. It doesn’t matter whether you are rich or poor, whether you have a college education or didn’t finish the fourth grade; you all begin in the same category.

… We arrived at Camp Polk Louisiana, the base of the 3rd Armored Division, and located in what appeared to be a desert, because tents where we were to be housed, were set up on sand.

… Thus began our 3 months of basic training with a rigorous schedule involving marching, drill, aircraft identification, health prevention measures, rifle assembly and numerous other military details. The routine was rigorous because it included calisthenics and forced marches with full packs, all in order to toughen us up.

… I did play baseball and this enabled me to practice in the afternoons or participate in inter-company games, the only relief from the routine.”

My Dad never ended up going overseas, but he served several years in the Army and continued for 20 years in the Reserves.

My Army experience consisted of a set of military bunk beds with army-issue scratchy blankets that my brother and I shared during summers, growing up on Skaneateles Lake. When we left for college or camp, we got an army-issue trunk to pack — rather than the standard Samsonite other kids wheeled around. And I STILL have Dad’s standard-issue, olive green coveralls which he wore to do yard work for 50 years. I love them.

I confess that I don’t know much about the origins of Veteran’s Day. Here’s the official scoop:

“World War I – known at the time as “The Great War” — officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919. However, fighting ceased seven months earlier when an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. For that reason, November 11, 1918, is generally regarded as the end of “the war to end all wars.

The original concept for the celebration was for a day observed with parades and public meetings and a brief suspension of business beginning at 11:00 a.m.”

I am glad I had the chance to reflect on my good fortune.

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Entry filed under: Holidays, Skaneateles Lake. Tags: , , , , , , , .

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