Friday, August 16, 2013

Commemorative Event in honor of OUR VETERANS ~ Camp Shanks 70th Anniversary and V-E Day.

 Gratitude to Jerry Donnellan, Director of RC Veterans Service Agency for having made this Commemorative Event move from a vision to a shared and present reality... Rose Marie Raccioppi

The JOY and HONOR of the Commemoration Prevails... the Gratitude to OUR VETERANS ever held in heart ... they, OUR VETERANS, in PRAISE... Gratitude to Jerry Donnellan, Director of RC Veterans Service Agency for having made this Commemorative Event move from a vision to a shared and present reality... Rose Marie Raccioppi 

Camp Shanks Anniversary Tribute, 1943 - 2013 and V-E Day ... Rose Marie Raccioppi introducing the commemorative poem she authored inscribed in bronze, standing now as the new monument in Tribute to OUR VETERANS.
 — at Piermont Pier.

Piermont Mayor Chris Sanders addressed the crowd gathered on the Piermont Pier Wednesday evening.

“To the village of Piermont, the Pier is almost hallowed ground,” Sanders said at the unveiling of a new plaque at the Pier honoring Camp Shanks.

Before going overseas during World War II, soldiers stopped in Orangeburg’s Camp Shanks. Serving as an embarkation camp, it processed approximately 1.3 service personnel, and was dubbed “Last Stop USA.” The pier served as a docking point for ships that would carry the young men on the long journey to war.

Wednesday at 6:30 p.m., a crowd gathered at the end of the Piermont Pier for the début of a plaque that commemorates the 70th anniversary of the creation of Camp Shanks. The organizers chose August 14 for the unveiling as Japan surrendered to the Allies 68 years ago on that day.

“This was the last piece of ground many Americans saw before leaving for war,” said Jerry Donellan, who was instrumental in building the Camp Shanks museum and serves as the Director of Veteran Affairs for Rockland County. “Right where we’re standing, those troops passed, many of them never to return. Those who did return, we’re seeing fewer and fewer as they fade from our sight.”

In attendance to the unveiling were community members, Nam Knights America motorcycle club, the American Legion Color Guard, and Orangetown Poet Laureate Rose Marie Raccioppi.

Raccioppi was not only there for moral support, but she also wrote the poem that was inscribed in the plaque.  The last line of the poem read, Memory of each life gone never to fade, Live we life’s blessing for sacrifice made.

When presenting her poem to the onlookers, Raccioppi was determined to honor and thank those in service. She began her speech with a quote from Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, a Civil War Union officer who received the Medal of Honor.

“Heroism is latent in every human soul,” Raccioppi said. “However humble or unknown, they (the veterans) have renounced what are accounted pleasures and cheerfully undertaken all the self denials. Privations, toils, dangers, sufferings, sicknesses, mutilations, life.”

In addition to quoting Chamberlain, Raccioppi her own thoughts.

“Each war, each battlefield, each sacrifice, and here we stand with freedom still,” Raccioppi said.

Sanders shared a similar sentiment with Raccioppi, feeling that the Pier not only represents Camp Shanks, but all soldiers who have lefts U.S. soil.

“For me, the pier is not just a frozen moment in time, but the same embarkation that continued in Korea, Vietnam and now in the Middles East,” Sanders said. “ We don’t board ships from piers anymore. Soldiers say goodbye to their families and head to the airports. It’s the dedication that this pier represents.”

After the series of speeches, Jerry Donnellan called for a moment of silence, and the Color Guard held up their flags and marched away from the edge of the pier.

As the crowd began to disperse, John Kroll remained, staring at, and admiring the plaque.

Kroll, 88, and was drafted in the military 70 years ago. While he never went through Camp Shanks, he served in the navy in both WWII and the Korean War.

“I left when I was a kid, only 18. You never forget what you had to go through,” Kroll said.

Kroll can still remember helping Japanese children in Nagasaki after the atomic bomb was dropped. He admits to shedding a lot of tears both in Japan, and in the years since he’s been home. Seeing the plaque reminded Kroll of this pain, but it was also clear, that he felt great pride,

“It feels great to see this plaque here,” Kroll said. “Fortunately I was lucky enough to get home.” 

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