The spirit of Peekskill shined bright Monday as the city gathered to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our nation with a area dignitaries, residents and members of the Peekskill High School band as well as city police, fire and EMS personnel joining local veterans for a ceremony outside of the Oliver C. Chase Jr. American Legion.
“It is always an honor to be in the presence of our veterans and unfortunately the weather has cancelled many of these ceremonies throughout the county but not in Peekskill,” County Legislator John Testa said to applause. “Peekskill would never let this go by.”
The program included an address from Mayor Frank Catalina, City Historian Frank Goderre and a patriotic soundtrack provided by Vietnam veteran Tim Murphy, bagpiper Joe Brady and the Peekskill High School band. Afterwards lunch was served inside the American Legion.
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In what was possibly the highlight of the ceremony, Vice Commander John Donahue presented a gift to band director John Hahn.
“Every year that I have been around, and it has been quite a few years with the Post, the one thing that this city can be proud of is those kids—The Replacements!” said Donahue, who will take over for Commander Robert Boddie June 14. “In recognition of that, we would like to present a little something in the way of a financial reward that can help do something for the band, and so Mr. Hahn, it is in your hands again.”
Hahn was grateful, in more ways than one.
“I always tell my students that we have a winter concert, a spring concert but the most important thing to me is Memorial Day and Veterans Day,” he said. “And I stress that more than anything. It has become bigger than it was when I started and I am glad to have them come here and have lunch afterwards—so I thank you for that—and talk to the veterans and get to know them. I’m very proud of my students. It’s the greatest town and they’re the greatest kids in this town.”