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Veterans honored in day of remembrance and reflection at WNY National Cemetery

By Howard B. Owens


The men and women interred at the WNY National Cemetery were honored on Saturday as part of a national effort, Wreaths Across America.

Family members and community members placed a wreath on each headstone in the cemetery.

Wreaths were sold by members of the Veterans Outreach Club at Pembroke Junior-Senior High School, led by teacher Matthew Moscato.

Genesee County's veterans' services officer, Bill Joyce, was the keynote speaker during an opening service that included placing a wreath for each branch of the military by either a veteran or an active member of the Armed Forces, a 21-gun salute and the playing of taps.

Joyce recalled a speaker he had heard previously at another ceremony honoring veterans.  That speaker noted that when we are at a headstone of a dead service member, we tend to look at the birth date and the death date but rarely stop to consider the space between those dates -- the dash.  It is the dash that matters most.

"How did they live their lives? How did they live, in other words, the dash? We know how these individuals interred here at the Western New York National Cemetery lived part of their lives, serving in every military service. They served this great nation honorably," Joyce said. 

Joyce called the service a day of "remembrance and reflection," noting that he was honored as a retired Army veteran to be the day's featured speaker.

Families of service members buried in the cemetery were given several minutes to place wreaths at their loved one's headstones. Then community members were given numbered wreaths to place at the remaining headstones.

They were instructed to salute after placing the wreath if they were an active service member or a veteran, or place their hand over their heart if not, and say the service member's name.

"When we read the names on the headstones today, it symbolizes acknowledging the sacrifices that service members made on behalf of the country," Joyce said.

Photos by Howard Owens.


Bill Joyce


Matthew Moscato











Members of Notre Dame's Varsity Basketball team volunteered to place wreaths. Photo submitted by Susan MacPherson Woodruff

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