Thousands of Soldiers and their Families as well as members of the Fort Drum community gathered at Wheeler-Sack Army Airfield as part of the 2009 Mountainfest celebrations, a weekend featuring a Salute to the Nation, air shows, a concert and fireworks.
During the festivities, Soldiers of the Division Special Troops Battalion, 10th Mountain Division (LI), also were welcomed home from their deployment to Iraq.
Maj. Gen. Mike Oates, 10th Mountain Division (LI) and Fort Drum commander, welcomed New York State Governor David A. Paterson, the event's guest speaker.
"We are pleased the governor of New York, David Paterson, could be with us today at our welcome home and Salute to the Nation ceremony," Oates said. "It is only fitting that he be our guest speaker to welcome us home, since he was the guest speaker at our deployment ceremony."
Paterson shared not only his feelings of gratitude toward Soldiers at Fort Drum, but his thoughts on Soldiers' selfless service.
He commented on "how they risk their lives for people they do not even know, how they have saved their comrades to their own detriment."
"It is humbling and insurmountable to stand here and try to think of words which describe your service," he said.
When closing his remarks on Fort Drum, the governor alluded to the relationships shared by Soldiers and their Families on post with people in the surrounding communities.
"You are heroes among us, that look just like us and are from the same weave as us," Paterson said. "We do not see the Soldiers as being distant. We see them as neighbors, and we are so glad to have them back today."