The lyricists that penned the words, “Oh beautiful, for spacious skies, For amber waves of grain, For purple mountains majesties, Above the fruited plain…” could have easily been inspired while sitting on any of our porches on a beautiful evening. With the lake sparkling to the west and the majestic “purple” mountains to the east, we truly are blessed to live in this beautiful place.
With blessings, there is and has always been sacrifice. From the same song, we recognize, “Oh beautiful, for heroes proved, In liberating strife, Who more than self, Their country loved, And mercy more than life.” Sacrifice in the name of peace and freedom has made our area what it is today. General Colin Powell stated, “The nation owes a great debt to its veterans, whose service to the nation spans every decade, every year, every day of our country’s existence. Through untold courage and sacrifice, American veterans have secured the liberty which the founding fathers sought to establish here in the new world. Whenever and wherever the nation has called—in times of darkness and danger as well as in times of peace and prosperity –America’s veterans have been there. Veterans have proudly carried the torch of liberty for all to see.” Syracuse itself boasts 12 men who served in World War I, 141 who served in WWII, and 54 who served in the Korean War. These men are proudly displayed in photos and honored in books at the Syracuse Museum, including the following: “The History of Syracuse” by Cora Bodily Bybee, “The Community of Syracuse” by the Syracuse Historical Commission, and a history depicting the military participation of those men and women who entered the service from Syracuse, with Don Rentmeister as chairman and 11 other veterans as assistants.
A reverent corner of the museum displays photos, combat uniforms, soldier gear, and, most likely, the best comprehensive display of WW II posters in existence. This treasure vividly tells the story of wartime in America on the home front. On September 17, 1942, Syracuse resident, Irene Wilcox, wrote, “Those of us on the home front have an urgent responsibility to do all that we can to speed the war to a swift and successful conclusion…Old lamps in the attic, broken garden tools in the garage, and old stove pipes in the cellar. All of these can be used to good advantage. Every pound of scrap we can get to American steel plants will increase their production…” Scrap rallies in Syracuse were very successful. Food was rationed with blue and red stamps (so many red points for meat and so many blue points for canned goods). Coffee, sugar, and such goods were strictly rationed, like one pound every three months. In “The Community of Syracuse,” we learn, “Farm shortages were felt with so many men off to war or working at defense bases. High school students worked on the farms or in the canneries. The schools in Davis County were delayed 20 days in the fall until the harvest was over… Much effort was placed on patriotism and love of country. When a nation is at risk, and a common enemy is threatening your freedom and democratic way of life, it does not take much to bring teary eyes and a lump in the throat.” The war ended in August of 1945, after two atom bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. Within a year, most of the Syracuse servicemen were back. These veterans came home to continue to serve their country in peacetime. In war, they did their best to defend liberty. In peace, they sought to build a better world. Those who survived returned home, convinced that they had done something worthwhile, something to make this world a better place to live. They served in the cause of freedom for all mankind. And for them, that was reward enough.
To all the veterans and servicemen who have defended, and are still defending, our peace daily, we owe our sincerest gratitude. We owe them a debt we can never repay. All we can do is remember them. John F Kennedy once said that “A nation reveals itself not only by the men it produces, but also by the men it honors, the men it remembers.” Thank you, veterans, for “all success (is) nobleness, And every gain divine.”