By Jason B. CutshawJanuary 14, 2010
Two national leaders from New York paid a visit to the North Country to show their support for America's fighting men and women.
U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Congressman William L. Owens (D-N.Y.) met Monday with Soldiers and community leaders to learn more about what Fort Drum does for the North Country.
During the visit, Schumer and Owens took a tour of post and met with Brig. Gen. Jeffrey L. Bannister, 10th Mountain Division (LI) deputy commander for operations, and Col. Kenneth H. Riddle, Fort Drum garrison commander, to talk about the direction in which Fort Drum is going.
"Every time I visit Fort Drum, it just knocks my socks off," Schumer said. "The quality of the people, the teamwork and the product, are just utterly amazing. Fort Drum is a special place. It just does such an amazing job in its No. 1 mission, preparing our Soldiers to fight for us and defend us, and in many other ways, such as taking care of Families.
"We are so mindful of the sacrifices these brave young men and women make for us," he added. "One of the amazing thing about America, from the days that farmers put down their plows and took up muskets at Bunker Hill, Mass., is that our young men and young women proudly volunteer, and it is an amazing thing. We never forget their sacrifice, and we just thank them."
Schumer also commented on Fort Drum's impact on neighboring communities, and he said he wanted to assure community members that he and the congressman will work for the post's continued success in the future.
"Congressman Owens and I are cognizant that in these difficult economic times, Fort Drum is one of the few bright spots economically in our North Country economy and in our upstate New York economy in general," Schumer said. "Fort Drum's economic waves spread outward beyond Jefferson County and certainly into central New York and other parts of the North Country in terms of jobs and in terms of bringing dollars into the community."
During their time at Fort Drum, Owens mentioned a recent trip he made to Afghanistan, where he met with 10th Mountain Division Soldiers deployed there. He talked about their dedication to Afghanistan's fight against terrorism.
"It is very clear to me that the troops I met understand the mission and are very committed to their mission," Owens said.
Schumer and Owens thanked everyone for their time and promised to take the knowledge they gained at Fort Drum and apply it in Congress upon their return to Washington, D.C.
"We will be working together to make sure the troops at Fort Drum will have what they need to get the job done every day and what they need to protect themselves when they are deployed," Owens said.