NOZZOLIO: We must do all we can to honor our Veterans (editorial)

Many issues divide Americans today, but there’s one subject that everyone can agree: we must do all we can to honor our veterans and to thank them for their service and great sacrifices for our beloved Nation.

Those brave men and women who throughout American history have answered the call in our Nation’s time of need, deserve a fitting final resting place of honor, where their patriotism, valor and courage can be remembered by generations to come, for eternity. Such a resting place of honor for our veterans exists in the heart of the Finger Lakes region, and it is the Sampson Veterans Memorial Cemetery.

The Sampson Veterans Memorial Cemetery is a permanent memorial and the final resting place for our veterans and their families. The Cemetery is located on over 150 acres of hallowed ground on the former Sampson Naval and Air Force base, where over 750,000 sailors and airmen trained in preparation for battle to defend the United States of America. This ideal resting place is located on a magnificent and beautiful setting on the eastern shore of Seneca Lake, and within the shadow of the nationally recognized birthplace of Memorial Day of Waterloo, New York. At present, over 750 veterans now rest for eternity at the Sampson Veterans Memorial Cemetery. There is more than enough land at the cemetery to be able to inter over 300 of our Nation’s veterans each year for well over the next 200 years.

Among those genuine American heroes who are interred at Sampson are veterans who landed on the beaches of Normandy and witnessed first-hand the flag raising on Mount Suribachi at Iwo Jima in World War II. Interred at Sampson are soldiers who landed at the peninsula of Inchon and fought through the Frozen Chosin reservoir in Korea. Interred at Sampson are those who fought in the dangerous jungles and rice paddies of Vietnam, stormed the Desert Sands in the Persian Gulf and fought terrorism in Afghanistan, Iraq and around the world. Interred at Sampson are heroes recognized for their valor and who have received countless commendations and medals for their bravery.

Last year on Veterans Day, November 11th, 2019, Governor Andrew Cuomo issued an Executive Order that gave all of us great hope that the Sampson Veterans Memorial Cemetery will become part of the National Veterans Cemetery System. In Governor Cuomo’s Order, he announced the formation of a committee of New York State Officials to oversee the site selection process and plans to create the first New York State Veterans Cemetery. See link:
https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/governor-cuomo-names-committee-will-oversee-creation-new-york-s-first-state-veterans-cemetery

This is welcome news to those of us who have been fighting for this designation since the Cemetery was established. I’m very grateful to Governor Cuomo for this announcement because New York is the only State in the Nation to not be part of the National Veterans Cemetery system. Forty nine other states have already joined, and most states have designated more than one cemetery. For instance, the State of Maryland has five cemeteries within the National system. Governor Cuomo also followed up his announcement with special mention of the initiative in his annual State of the State Message of 2020.

The Seneca County Board of Supervisors has been very supportive of this work by appointing a citizens committee to engender support for the Cemetery and by enacting two formal Resolutions requesting Governor Cuomo to designate the Sampson Veterans Memorial Cemetery as the first New York State Veterans Cemetery. Former Board Chairman Bob Shipley and current Board Chairman Bob Hayssen serve on the Citizens Committee, as does Seneca County Manager Mitch Rowe and over a dozen other distinguished citizens who have been actively working on garnering support for the Sampson Veterans Memorial Cemetery from across our region, State and Nation.

The Citizens Committee has worked tirelessly over these past months to garner Resolutions of support from veterans, and other service organizations to offer their support for the State Veterans’Cemetery designation for the Sampson Veterans Memorial Cemetery. On this Veterans Day please consider supporting and adding to these efforts. The Resolutions of Support are listed on the Committee’s website at https://sampsonnyvetscemetery.com/letters/.

In addition to the Resolutions of Support, the website contains a video message produced by the Committee that powerfully describes the Sampson Veterans Memorial Cemetery as a beautiful place of honor to our Nation’s veterans. Honor our veterans this week by taking a few minutes to review this important message at https://sampsonnyvetscemetery.com/. Please share this link with your friends and family.

Memory is the most important form our honor. We honor our veterans by remembering their service and their sacrifices to keep our Nation free. The Sampson Veterans Memorial Cemetery is a place of lasting, permanent honor, for our veterans. … a place of honor and remembrance for eternity.

Mike Nozzolio, Chairman
Sampson Veterans Memorial Cemetery
Citizens Committee
New York State Senator, ret.