Home News Local veterans reflect on the meaning of Memorial Day

Local veterans reflect on the meaning of Memorial Day

Local veterans reflect on the meaning of Memorial Day

MID-HUDSON: In the summer of 1966, Dan Clarino’s U.S. Marine Corps unit suffered so many fatalities in the Vietnam War that they had to move from the area of danger along the border between North and South Vietnam to the city of Da Nang.

Clarino was shot by a Vietcong sniper not long after reaching Da Nang. The bullet exited his back and passed through his stomach. Clarino might have been rendered paraplegic if the bullet had punctured his spine.

Especially on Memorial Day, Clarino will never forget his colleagues Echo Company Second Battalion First Marines who lost their lives in Vietnam. He feels fortunate to have survived the war. He requests that on Monday, when the holiday is commemorated, you keep in mind the sacrifices they made for this nation.

Memorial Day isn’t only for hot dogs and grills, according to 77-year-old Cornwall, New York, real estate salesman Clarino. That is a pleasant aspect of the weekend, but the real focus is on the men and women who frequently did not return home after going to fight in another country. Memorial Day ought to be a day of remembering and honoring those who have sacrificed their lives in defense of this nation.

Dan Clarino.

Originally called Decoration Day, Memorial Day is a day of remembering those who have lost their lives while serving their country. President Lyndon Johnson and Congress proclaimed upstate Waterloo, New York, the origin of Memorial Day in 1966. On May 5, 1866, a ceremony was held in Waterloo to honor the local veterans of the Civil War.

After graduating from Newburgh Free Academy in 1964, Clarino served in Vietnam and was awarded two Purple Hearts. Members of the United States Armed Forces who have been wounded, killed, or have passed away from wounds they received while serving are recognized with the Purple Heart military honor. On July 24, 1966, a Vietcong mortar bombardment caused shrapnel to fly between Clarino’s eyes. Just 29 days later, the enemy shot Clarino.

Clarino stated, “I try to keep everything in perspective whenever I’m having a rough day or when I’m angry, and I definitely will on Memorial Day.” All I want to do is make sure that everyone remembers the soldiers who lost their lives fighting abroad on Memorial Day.

Dutchess County Director of Veterans Services Adam Roche (right) speaks with a veteran at an event.

Adam Roche, the director of veterans services for Dutchess County, was a member of the Third Battalion Second Marines, one of the first units to enter Iraq in 2003 for combat. As an infantry machine gunner, Roche was a member of the group that saved Jessica Lynch, a POW. Later on, he fought in Afghanistan with the Marines.

Not just one soldier, but every single day, is what I think about when we lose soldiers, Roche said. I believe that on Memorial Day, we should remember everyone who has passed away and consider the question, “Why?” People must understand that freedom isn’t free, especially the younger generation. They still need to internalize it a bit more.

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