By Sgt. Steven Peterson May 23, 2013
ALBANY, N.Y. --- Fort Drum and the 10th Mountain Division (LI) community received an exceptional tribute Monday at the New York State Capitol.
The state of New York declared its second annual "10th Mountain Division and Fort Drum Day" in honor of a post that has emerged in recent years as the DOD's premier power projection platform in the Northeast and one of the Army's most vital installations.
Thirteen Soldiers and members of the division command group spent the day at the New York State Capitol, where the Senate unanimously passed a resolution marking May 20 as the official second annual "10th Mountain Division and Fort Drum Day" in the state.
Organized by Sen. Patty Ritchie of New York's 48th District, the event included a tour of the Senate building, a luncheon, and an address in the Senate chamber by the Fort Drum and 10th Mountain Division (LI) commander.
"Thirty-eight thousand Soldiers and their Families who have made an extraordinary choice to be part of America's Army and to make a stand for freedom," Ritchie said. "I would like to thank Maj. Gen. Stephen Townsend for accepting my invitation to participate in 10th Mountain Division and Fort Drum Day."
The Senate allowed Townsend to speak for a few minutes. He talked about the division's history and working with the local community. Fort Drum has been named an Army Community of Excellence for three straight years and received a best practices award the previous year.
"Thanks very much for honoring us," he said. "And thanks also to the Senate for allowing our Soldiers to come here on this day."
Townsend talked about the economic impact Fort Drum has on northern New York, noting it is one of the state's largest employer with more than 5,000 civilian jobs.
"That's in large part a credit to our neighbors in northern New York, who truly make Fort Drum a home rather than just a place to be assigned to," he added.
"It's surprising that many people across New York state just aren't aware of the role Fort Drum and the 10th Mountain Division play in our nation's defense, nor do they know what a tremendous impact the post has on our North Country economy," Ritchie said.
"I'm proud to honor these men and women and certainly proud to represent them in the 48th District," she added. "I appreciate you coming down today so that all of my colleagues can have firsthand knowledge of what wonderful men and women you truly are."
A special color guard of 10th Mountain Division Soldiers presented the flag and led the pledge of allegiance to open the Senate's daily public session. Senators recognized the fighting men and women of the 10th Mountain Division with an official resolution.
Senate Republican leader Dean G. Skelos also took time to welcome the general, his staff and his Soldiers.
"I'd like to join Sen. Ritchie in welcoming you; we are truly honored by your presence in our historic chamber," he said. "You have an enormous impact on the economy of the North Country, but even more importantly, you provide all of us with inspiration."
After Townsend spoke, senators took a short break to meet the Soldiers who had traveled from Fort Drum to Albany. They took photos with each of the Soldiers and asked them where they were from, how they liked the area, and what they did with their spare time.
The Soldiers thanked the Senate members for allowing them to visit the New York State Capitol before departing to return to Fort Drum.