Memorial Day remarks

Rye City Mayor Joe Sack

Rye City Mayor Joe Sack

I am told the Memorial Day parade is an old Rye tradition that somehow went away. But you are living, breathing, marching proof the patriotic fervor and the community pride that once made the parade so great was still coursing just beneath the surface of our town, and all it needed to come gushing forth once again was the inspiration and dedication of a few good neighbors with strong links to our past.

Thank you whole heartedly to Robin Phelps Latimer, Nancy Collins, George Sczcerba, Dan Somma and the entire American Legion and the auxiliary for starting this wonderful tradition anew and bringing it back, even better than ever.

While it is the parade that gets us out and stretching our legs and moving to the beat of the drum and waving flags and waving to each other and working up an appetite before we disperse to barbeques with family and friends, it is what happens at the end of the parade that really brings us out today. It is here on the Village Green where the parade ends and where we stop and pause to remember those among us who have served our country so well. It is here that we pay honor and respect to those who have protected our way of life, here on this Memorial Day.

John Carolin will soon read the names of those from Rye who made the ultimate sacrifice in the defense of our liberty, the brave men whose names are also preserved for all time in bronze on the plaques affixed to the walls of our City Hall.

John and his Legion colleagues bear witness to this roll call each year, and they also receive thanks from us in their own right for their own exemplary service. Their names do not appear in your program, but they stand before you and are deeply deserving of our recognition.

Last month, I was reading through the weekly Resurrection bulletin and a section caught my eye that included a prayer list of names of individuals who are currently serving in the military. This got me to thinking military service in Rye is not just a thing of the past, but is ongoing

So I reached out to Jono Peters and Joe Latwin, who are not only well-known to many of us in Rye, but who also have sons currently serving as officers in the United States Armed Forces, and I asked for their help in compiling a more complete list of those from Rye who also currently serve. In the process, I developed a real sense of what it means to come from Rye and to serve our country.

Jonathan Peters is 26. He attended Christ Church Nursery School and Midland School, where he was once named Citizen of the Year. He is a 2006 graduate of Rye Country Day School, where he was a four-year soccer starter and captain, having grown up playing on the Rye travel teams. He was a four-year squash starter and captain as well. He also played varsity baseball, having played Little League baseball in Rye. He spent his summers sailing competitively up and down Long Island Sound. After graduating from Hamilton College in 2010, he worked briefly for Marsh & McLennon before entering the Marines.

Jonathan is currently a first lieutenant in the Marines, stationed at Camp Lejeune, N.C., as a platoon commander with Golf Battery, 2nd Battalion, 10th Marines. Lt. Peters is a Marine artillery officer who returned from Afghanistan in March after an eight-month deployment. While there, he served as the senior watch officer for a task force comprised of 3,000 personnel from six different countries, primarily responsible for the allocation of combat support such as artillery and aircraft, and the coordination for the movement of ground combat units.

Stewart Latwin is 28. Stew attended Midland School and Rye Middle School. He is a 2004 graduate of Rye High School, where he was a member of both the wrestling and cross country teams. He was a Boy Scout and rose to the rank of Eagle, a distinction few ever reach. After high school, he was accepted to the United States Naval Academy. At Annapolis, he majored in systems engineering and graduated with honors in 2008.

Stew went to pre-flight indoctrination at Pensacola, Fla., and Primary Flight School in Corpus Christi, Texas, qualifying on the T36 helicopter. He was assigned to Whiting Field, Milton, Fla., where he trained on the TH 54, the Navy equivalent of the Bell Jet Ranger helo. He received his gold wings and was designated a naval aviator in February 2010.

Stew was assigned to Fleet Reserve Squadron 2 in Norfolk, Va., and qualified to fly the MH 60s, the navy’s version of the Blackhawk helo. He was assigned to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 22 in Norfolk and detached twice to the Persian Gulf, first on the U.S.N.S. Arctic and next on U.S.S. Iwo Jima, doing vertical replenishment, search and rescue, and other missions he cannot talk about.

After three years with HSC22, Stew was assigned to VX-1, the Air Test and Evaluation Squadron in Patuxent River, Md.

There are, I am positive, equally impressive Rye stories of service about the dozens of others with Rye roots who currently serve. Over the coming weeks, I will be reaching out to the families of those on this list, and, with their permission, I will publish this list on the Rye City website.

For now, on this Memorial Day, as we continue again with the tradition of the annual parade, which took a brief hiatus, it is clear Rye service in the military never took a break, and will undoubtedly continue into the unending future.