WATERVLIET ARSENAL, N.Y. -- For nearly 200 years, the Watervliet Arsenal has been building things and it was no different this past Memorial Day. What the Arsenal workforce built, however, cannot be measured in dollars or cents, but in community spirit.What started out as a core working group of about five folks several months ago, turned into more than 100 volunteers by the time the Arsenal rolled out for the City of Watervliet's Memorial Day parade on May 28.After many years of little, if any community engagements, the Arsenal started to aggressively reengage the community in 2009. In the small community of 10,000 that borders the Arsenal called Watervliet, the Arsenal 's spirit began to flow out of the fence line ever so slowly back into streets, businesses, and into the homes of New York's Capital District.And just like the ebb and flow of the ocean tide, the flow of the Arsenal's spirit came back into the fence line after every community event and motivated the workforce to support the next community event with even more.Although the key objectives for each community engagement is to pay proper respect and honor to our former and current military, it would be an understatement to say that the Arsenal does not get some additional value from these community events. Each time the Arsenal rolls out the gate in support to the community, someone new is touched by the Arsenal's messaging. Sometimes that someone is an elected official and sometimes they are a child who will never forget what they had just experienced.
And so, here the Arsenal is three years later and has found itself in such great demand by the community that it now cannot support all requests. Just in the past seven days, the Arsenal has supported a major community event with the New York state Senate, a Memorial Day Parade for the Village of Green Island and finally, the Memorial Day Parade for the City of Watervliet.Today, the remaining pieces of equipment were just removed from the last float and the planning now begins for the City of Albany Veterans' Day Parade in November. Every day, the Arsenal builds something quite valuable -- sometimes it is a gun for an Abrams Tank and sometimes it is the spirit of a child who has seen something great called the Watervliet Arsenal.The Watervliet Arsenal (pronounced water-vleet") is an Army-owned-and-operated manufacturing facility located in Watervliet, New York. The Arsenal is the oldest, continuously active arsenal in the United States, having begun operations during the War of 1812.Today's Arsenal is relied upon by U.S. and foreign militaries to produce the most advanced, high tech, high powered weaponry for cannon, howitzer, and mortar systems. This National Historic Registered Landmark has an annual economic benefit to the local community in excess of $100 million.