Tupper Lakers remember the fallen

Tupper Lake High School students lay a wreath at the Tupper Lake veteran’s memorial on Monday, Memorial Day. (Enterprise photo — Aaron Marbone)

TUPPER LAKE — Veterans Dave Premo and Bob Vaillancourt carried a red, white and blue wreath of flowers to the veteran’s memorial in Tupper Lake on Monday, Memorial Day.

“This is the easy part … They did the hard part,” Vaillancourt said, gesturing to the names etched into the stone memorial. “They gave their lives. … So many guys that sacrificed their lives.”

Premo said the annual holiday helps him to remember “the guys that didn’t come back.”

He said he was “very fortunate” to be drafted into the Navy toward the end of the Korean War.

“I rode through every place I went. I didn’t have to walk,” Premo said.

Tupper Lake town Supervisor Rick Dattola speaks at the Memorial Day ceremony in the veterans park Monday. (Enterprise photo — Aaron Marbone)

Around 3 million people died in the war, including 36,000 U.S. soldiers, with an estimated 2 million civilians killed. Premo’s son was in the military, as was his grandson. He said his grandson was wounded while serving with the Army in Iraq, but he made it home.

Town Supervisor Rick Dattola spoke at the event. Village Trustee Leon Leblanc had asked him to speak at the ceremony. Dattola said he didn’t serve in the military, but members of his family did — brothers, uncles, cousins and in-laws. Through them, he said he understands the sacrifice they endured for others.

“I know what it’s like to have people missing from certain events — Thanksgiving, Christmas, anniversaries,” Dattola said.

His brother, Dan, was severely wounded in Vietnam and spent two-and-a-half years in a full body cast.

Dattola said he has a special spot in his heart for soldiers who are still missing in action and for their families who never get closure.

Bob Vaillancourt, left, and Dave Premo carry a wreath to the Tupper Lake veteran’s memorial on Monday, representing the Veterans of Foreign Wars organization. (Enterprise photo — Aaron Marbone)

He said the soldiers of World War II earned their reputation as part of the “Greatest Generation.”

“They faced evil, true evil in Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. They not only saved our country, they saved the world,” Dattola said.

Then, they came back and got married, had babies and created a middle class economy that was the “envy of the world.”

Less than a decade later, U.S. troops were engaged in wars in Korea and Vietnam.

“Communism ruled its ugly head,” Dattola said. “They went and they stopped them from taking over countries.”

A group of children with the Franklin County 4-H group lay a wreath at the Tupper Lake veteran’s memorial on Monday, Memorial Day. (Enterprise photo — Aaron Marbone)

Dattola feels there is a “black stain” on the U.S. for the way people treated Vietnam veterans when they returned.

When the country went back to war again in Afghanistan and Iraq after 9/11, he said Vietnam veterans “stood up to the plate.”

“(They) said, ‘never again will our soldiers be treated like that,'” Dattola said. “And they did that. When our troops came back from Afghanistan and Iraq they were treated with respect.”

Dattola urged the high school students who played patriotic songs in a band at the park to talk with veterans on Memorial Day.

A Tupper Lake High School student plays a solo part of a patriotic song at the Tupper Lake veteran’s memorial on Monday, Memorial Day. (Enterprise photo — Aaron Marbone)


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