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Home Current Affairs Mayor Joe Sack's Memorial Day Remarks

Mayor Joe Sack’s Memorial Day Remarks

What must have been about five hundred Rye residents gathered in the village green on Memorial Day after the parade down Purchase Street to acknowledge and remember all those that have and all those that do serve our great nation.

MyRye.com will post other pictures of the day during the remainder of the week. For today, we are publishing the Memorial Day remarks of Rye Mayor Joe Sack:

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Mayor’s Memorial Day remarks – May 25, 2015

Father Joe Lim and members of the Clergy, Commander Tom Saunders and Legionnaires of Rye Post 128, Senator George Latimer, Assemblyman Steve Otis, Legislator Catherine Parker, Council members Laura Brett, Julie Killian, Terry McCartney, Kirstin Bucci, Richard Mecca and Richard Slack, Distinguished Guests and All Citizens of Rye:

Last November, on Veteran’s Day, during the ceremony on this same spot on our Village Green, I made reference to the fact that I had become a reader of books by veterans, about their experiences at war.

I cited a number of authors from across the country, including one who subsequently received the National Book Award.

As it turned out, I did not need to look so far to find veterans who had published their memoirs.

Because the great City of Rye has produced its own eloquent raconteurs of war stories.

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One is Rye resident Martin Dockery, who grew up in White Plains, attended Stepinac High School, and then went on to Boston College, Class of 1960.

Martin was enrolled in the Army ROTC program while at BC, and after graduation, spent time at Fort Benning, Fort Knox and Fort Bragg, en route to Saigon in 1962 as a 23-year-old advisor to the Army of the Republic of Vietnam.

Martin was the sole American assigned to an ARVN combat unit in the Mekong Delta for close to a year.  Martin came to realize, well before the American involvement in Vietnam escalated, that it was futile for the United States to interject itself in what was essentially a civil war, with divisions dating back hundreds if not thousands of years.

Upon the completion of his assignment, Martin presented his bleak but prescient assessment in a lecture to military brass in Germany, to which a high ranking Colonel commented:  “Who invited you here?!”

That Colonel and the U.S. command would have done well to absorb Martin’s observations.

When Martin was honorably discharged from the Army, he attended law school, and began working for the famous Mudge Rose law firm, where future President Richard Nixon and future Attorney General John Mitchell worked.

In 1999, Martin returned to Vietnam for a brief visit with a buddy, and was inspired to write “Lost in Translation:  Vietnam, A Combat Advisor’s Story” which was published in 2003.

After retiring as a lawyer, Martin then returned to Vietnam again, and worked in an orphanage for blind children.  This time he stayed for 10 years, and he recently came back to Rye.

Martin has two adult sons, and Martin and his wife Thao, whom he met in Vietnam, also have two 10-year-old twins, who currently attend the Resurrection School.

Martin is here and I would ask him to stand and be recognized.

On December 7, 1941, Robert Lynch, of 23 Oakwood Avenue, Rye, NY, was a 19-year-old student at Rye High School.  After Pearl Harbor, he didn’t wait for the draft, and immediately enlisted in the ROTC program through NYU.

By 1943, Bob was being shipped out with the Army’s Third Infantry Division as part of the American invasion of North Africa.  Bob subsequently participated in the amphibious assault on Anzio, Italy, and St. Tropez, France, on the way to Germany and victory.

During these fights, Bob was wounded and missing in action for over 10 days.  He received the Bronze Star and Purple Heart, among many other honors.

Bob was honorably discharged in 1945 and returned to civilian life.  He married Helen Brendel of Rye, and they had four children.  Helen passed in 1975.  In 1987, Bob re-married, to Bobbe Rice, who had six children of her own.

Professionally, Bob went into banking, and I believe was the manager of the Citibank branch just around the corner here, for many years.

In 2002, Bob returned to Europe, to the sites of the battles he fought in WWII, and gained some closure and perspective.

In 2005, one of Bob’s sons encouraged him to memorialize his war time experiences, and what came in handy was the collection of letters which Bob had faithfully sent home to his family during the war.

Hence was born:  “A Letter Marked Free” published in 2007.

Also in 2007, Bob also awarded the French Legion of Honor, for his role in liberating France.

And in 2012, Bob returned to Vesoul, France, upon the occasion of the 68th Anniversary of the liberation of that town, where he was feted in a special ceremony by the Mayor and all Vesoul residents.

Bob is in Naples, FL, today.  I am very grateful to Bob’s son-in-law, Tim Moynihan, for sharing with me photos and reminisces from this great occasion.

Tim is a veteran himself, and resident with Bob’s daughter at the family home at 23 Oakwood.  Tim is also here and I would ask him to stand and be recognized, on behalf of Bob and the entire extended family.

There are many powerful and stark passages in Bob’s book.  One which struck me particularly was a letter home from Bob those many years ago:

[Read from page 84.]

So while today I have cited Martin Dockery and Bob Lynch, we are also, on this Memorial Day, truly recognizing those who made the ultimate sacrifice, and who did not make it home to tell their stories.

Congratulations to Bob Steel on the Americanism Award.  Congratulations to the American Legion for reviving the Rye tradition of this parade and this day – it already feels that there was never a lapse, and that this event has always been with us.

Finally, since it is our duty to remember every day, and not just on Memorial Day, I am pleased to announce that the flagpole, over yonder at the WWI Memorial, will be receiving a much needed sanding and painting in the coming weeks.  Thanks for the diligence of the Rye DPW for that.

God Bless those who served and died in the armed services, God Bless America, and God Bless the City of Rye.

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