By Sgt. Javier AmadorNovember 14, 2013
Fort Drum, N.Y. - Soldiers of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division participated in several events held in their local community to help them honor Veterans Day over a four-day period that began Nov. 8 at Fort Drum.
The soldiers supported several functions held by some of the nearby local communities including a reflection ceremony at the Lowville Academy in Lowville, N.Y., where they paced the school's national colors in front of the school, helping the faculty and staff to recognize veterans and the sacrifices they made for the country.
The crowning event supported by the brigade was the Veterans Day parade held at the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse, N.Y. The 10th Mountain Division Band as well as soldiers representing all six of the brigade's battalions marched and provided the color guard carrying the flags of the United States, the Department of the Army and the 10th Mountain Division.
They were received by excited crowds. Also in the parade were vehicles provided by two of the brigade's six units, the 710th Brigade Support Battalion and the 3rd Squadron, 71st Cavalry Regiment of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team. The vehicles were later made available for public viewing as static displays on the fairgrounds.
"We had about 10 to 20 soldiers that did not deploy forward to Afghanistan with the rest of the brigade," said 1st Sgt. Richard Hernandez of the 4th Battalion, 25th Artillery Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team.
The brigade's soldiers were happy to lend a hand in spite of the unusually cold weather.
"Being here on a Saturday and in the cold was a bit of a bummer for them," said Hernandez, "but for many of them, it was their first opportunity to visit the central New York area and they understand the significance of marching in a Veterans Day parade, especially in the Central New York parade which is one of the larger ones."
For 1st Sgt. Hernandez as well as the soldiers who participated in the parade, it was also an opportunity to back to the communities that have supported the 10th Mountain Division and all service members in general.
"I've never seen so much support in all of my 20 years in the Army," said Hernandez, "and here you could really see the support that the New York citizens give the veterans."
The appreciation shown by the crowd as well as by the veterans either watching from the side or actually participating in the parade was genuine and demonstrated eagerly, and for some of the veterans, such as Mitch Longley, a Navy veteran who had served in Vietnam and is currently the junior commander of the local Veterans of Foreign Wars, even emotionally.
"It's a feeling you can't describe," said Longley as he visibly held back tears, paused for a moment and then went on. "I guess it's mainly pride."