Central New York

Pianist Honors Veterans During Ceremony at the War Memorial

By Claire Moran SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News)- Ann Barnes can’t remember how many years she has been attending the annual Veterans Day ceremony at Syracuse’s War Memorial.

“It’s marvelous,” Barnes said. “I just love it. It’s a great way to honor our vets.”

Every year, Barnes chooses a song to perform.  She says that she always wants to make sure that the song is meaningful.  This year she stayed up until 1 a.m. the night before the event to choose a song.  She decided on one called “Friends.”  She said it reminded her of soldiers who saw friends die while in combat beside them.

“To lose a friend in the war who is maybe right next to you and has gotten killed, that’s got to be extremely, extremely traumatic,” Barnes said. “I don’t know if I’d be able to get over something like that.”

This year’s ceremony marked the 25th Anniversary of the Gulf War.  In addition to Barnes’ song, it also included musical tributes from the Spirit of Syracuse Chorus and the Dr. Tom Dooley Choraliers. Speakers included Congressman John Katko and Assemblyman Bill Magnarelli. Colonel Greg A. Semmel, the commander of the 174th Fighter Wing at the Hancock Field Air National Guard Base, gave the keynote address about his experiences in combat during the Gulf War.  The ceremony also included poetry readings, award presentations, the placement of wreaths, and a firing squad.

Robert McLean, the Public Affairs Officer for the Syracuse VA Medical Center and Master of Ceremonies for the event, said he was pleased with the turnout.

“It brings together all the element of the community: both our elected leaders and representatives, our veterans organizations and groups, and our families, and, most importantly, our veterans of all the conflicts,” McLean said. “It’s a wonderful effort every year that just seems to keep getting better.”

Barnes said she wished more people would come to the event because it offers aspects that other Veterans Day celebrations do not offer.

“We need more of our City of Syracuse people to come to this event,” Barnes said.