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Ossining, Briarcliff Veterans Remember the Fallen

OSSINING – While hundreds of eyes will be focused on the veterans marching in Ossining and Briarcliff Manor in today’s Memorial Day parades, the veterans in the parades say they will be focused on those who aren't marching today.

“All of our wars are fought on other people’s land and many don’t come back home,” said Tony D’Agostino, a 95-year-old Ossining veteran who served in World War II. “We know it happens but it’s really those people who have lost their loved ones who are really affected. It’s good when people come out to remember on Memorial Day but every veteran thinks about the ones who didn't come home every day.”

D’Agostino said he also will be proud to see residents showing their patriotism today.

“Patriotism means so much to me and I see it a lot in Ossining,” he said. “No other country has the same kind of freedoms we have. So Memorial Day is a very special day for us to remember the ones we have lost and remember what they were fighting for.”

Briarcliff Manor’s Stephen Smalley not only has family who have served in every American war since the American Revolution, he’s also the fourth of five consecutive generations that have served in the military. Smalley said he served in the Marine Corps as a helicopter pilot in the 1970s. Aside from his time overseas, he’s walked in the Ossining or Briarcliff Memorial Day parade since he was a kid. When he walks today, Smalley said he’ll not only be thinking about his family who served in the past, but his son serving overseas as a pilot in the U.S. Marine Corps.

“Even when I was a kid marching down the streets in the village of Ossining, I knew Memorial Day was a very special day,” Smalley said. “It’s about honoring those who have served and the fallen who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.”

While he walks, Smalley said the street names in Briarcliff Manor and the Village of Ossining also will remind him and the rest of the residents of the men who have given their lives for their country.

“We have Ganung Street and that’s named after Leroy Ganung, a distant cousin of mine who died during World War I,” Smalley said. “You can go down the streets in the town and the villages and you’ll see they’re named after people who have lost their lives in combat.”

Smalley said the idea of patriotism once was lost among the residents of Ossining and Briarcliff Manor.

“In the ‘50s, everyone in this area was patriotic. But then Vietnam happened and we forgot about the people serving and that patriotism was lost,” Smalley said. “But now the pendulum is swinging back the other way. What we’re seeing today is people serving are earning more respect and I think that’s very important. We should always remember those who have made that ultimate sacrifice.”

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