OSWEGO — The upcoming Memorial Day weekend is a traditional time for Americans to gather and reflect on the sacrifices of those who gave their lives for our nation. While many Memorial Day observances have been canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic, local veterans and supporters say there will be opportunities for people to mark the holiday.
The Oswego City Veterans Council annually holds a Memorial Day gathering at Veterans Park on the Oswego riverwalk but has been forced to cancel, according to officials.
“Memorial Day is a special time to remember those that gave so much and it’s very sad we’re unable to perform our ceremony this year due to the pandemic,” said council President George Hoffman. “We hope everyone will take time out of their day to remember those that gave so much.”
Hoffman said anyone looking for an American flag to place on the gravesite of a veteran should contact the Oswego Elks Lodge.
County residents can also turn their eyes skyward for a dramatic show as five pilots will fly their private planes over some areas of Oswego County and other counties. The sortie will serve as a salute to veterans who gave their lives for their country, and to all service men and women.
It will be the second flyover in central New York in as many weeks, with the National Warplane Museum conducting a flyover last week from its headquarters in Geneseo, Livingston County. Weather permitting, the planes will begin from an airstrip near the home of Lauren and Laurie Dates of Red Creek at about 11:45 a.m. Monday.
The route of the flyover will proceed to Hannibal, Fulton, Oswego, Wolcott, North Rose, and other locations including Auburn, Port Byron, and Cato before returning to land at Red Creek, Lauren Dates said.
“We’ll probably be in Hannibal about noon, Fulton around 12:15, and Oswego at 12:30,” said Dates.
He said the route is “like a big figure 8.”
A combat veteran of the Vietnam War, Dates said he has been doing the flyovers for about 50 years.
“We usually do Memorial Day and Veterans Day, and occasionally veterans’ funerals,” he said.
Joining him for the flyovers is an informal group of area pilots operating their private planes. Among them is Fulton’s Martin VanDerlinder, also a Vietnam veteran.
Most of the pilots are veterans from the Vietnam era, Dates said. They are proud to participate as a tribute to veterans, he said.