Remembering the fallen: Owego honors servicemen, servicewomen this Memorial Day

On Monday, flags were at half-mast to remember and honor those who fought and died for our freedom.
Published: May. 30, 2022 at 6:37 PM EDT
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OWEGO (WBNG) -- On this Memorial Day, we’re remembering those who have served and died in the line of duty.

In Owego on Monday, flags were at half-mast to remember and honor those who fought and died for our freedom.

“Under a blanket of red, white, and blue, our servicemen are eternally asleep in the cemeteries,” said 90-year-old Korean War Veteran and VFW Memorial Day Chairman Jim Raftis.

Raftis has been a part of Owego’s Memorial Day events for more than five decades.

He said the day is about one thing; Remembrance.

“Go up to the monument, select a name, say that name out loud, say a prayer, thank the veteran for his sacrifice. That’s what Memorial Day is all about.”

The annual Memorial Day Parade and Service of Remembrance included everything from marching bands, to firetrucks and service dogs.

All who participated know this isn’t about pomp and circumstance; It’s to honor those who should never be forgotten.

“So, lets change the world to remember them,” said retired U.S. Army Chaplain Patrick Vandurme, who said it’s an emotional day. “Nobody wants to go halfway around the world leaving family and friends and risk their lives, but we do it because our country asks us to,” he said.

When it comes to Memorial Day, Vandurme shared something that has stuck with him for all these years.

“The quote that was given to me by somebody else was, ‘I didn’t fight for the red stripe or for the blue field, I fought for the whole flag.”

As part of Monday’s ceremony, elementary students also placed American flags at the base of the Tioga County Veteran’s Memorial.

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