Honoring Those Who Made the Ultimate Sacrifice at the Memorial Day 2021 Town of New Castle Ceremony
World War II Vet William Witkin, Turning 100 this Year, Receives Special Recognition
Plus… A Promise to Bring Back the Town’s Parade “in 100% Full Force” in 2022
Story and Photos By Grace Bennett
Chappaqua, NY, Memorial Field–Captain Peter Gaudet, keynote speaker at the Town of New Castle’s Memorial Day Ceremony, honored the nation’s fallen today stating that “as we pull out of the Covid crisis, each one of us needs to find ways to be worthy of our American heritage… and therefore worthy of the supreme sacrifice of those fellow Americans who gave their lives for our liberty.”
In perhaps the service’s most poignant moment, Captain Gaudet also recognized the honorable World War II Air Force Ltd. William Witkin in attendance–he will be 100 years old this year. “He flew B-24s out if Italy in WWII to bomb Nazi oil refineries in Austria. When I see him here today and say his name, I get chills up and down my spine.”
In past years, Memorial Field would accommodate upwards of a thousand or more for a ceremony at the conclusion of Chappaqua’s world renowned parade down King Street and across Greeley Avenue with so many in the community participating, from the long procession of fire trucks to school marching bands, and parade goers waving to and many finding a chance to exchange a few words with and/or photograph dignitaries and esteemed neighbors including former President Clinton, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Governor Andrew Cuomo. In 2020, the ceremony was held virtually due to Covid.
Captain Gaudet noted that in 2022, the town’s Memorial Day Parade would be “back to 100% full force.”
Yet, today was no less grand in feeling anyhow as a modest, appreciative gathering of about 100 residents and visitors heard Gaudet recognize so many in the New Castle community who made the event possible, including the New Castle Police Department, the Chappaqua Volunteer Fire Department, the Millwood Fire Department, the Chappaqua Volunteer Ambulance Corps., Chappaqua Girl Scouts 1& 2, and Chappaqua Girl Scout Troop 1024, “the Girl Scouts who had planted a bed of Memorial flowers to honor our fallen heroes,” the Memorial Day committee–Captain Jim McCauley, David Egerton, Barbara Jenkel and Eric Rosenfeld–Town Clerk Jill Shapiro and Tiffany White, Sari Shaw, the sponsor of the flowers, Town Supervisor Ivy Pool, Deputy Supervisor Jeremy Saland, Town Board members Lisa Katz, Lori Gowen Morton, and Lauren Levin, and also County Legislator for New Castle, Vedat Gashi.
“It’s a yeoman effort every year to make this so special,” Captain Gaudet said.
During the Invocation, Rev. Dr. Martha Jacobs of the First Congregational Church asked everyone to pause for a moment of silence to remember the many, many people who have died during this pandemic. “We pray for all who continue to be affected, pause to give thanks to all the first responders and front-line workers who kept us going and for the vaccine that enables us to be here today.”
“To honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice…,” Dr. Rev. Jacobs continued, “may we be mindful that the sacrifices made by these brave men and women and their families continue to this day; they remind us that America is a great country, but we can never take that for granted.”
In other highlights of the ceremony, two Girl Scouts, Erica Dunne and Gramercy Burton, presented a wreath to honor fallen veterans. Dunne (with Girl Scout Troop 1029) read the oral history of fallen New Castle veteran Corporal William Vance Moss and Burton (with Girl Scout Troop 1079) read the history of Staff Sargeant Kyu H. Chay–both these readings were via biographies prepared by David Egerton. Gaudet also recognized members of the Chay family in attendance.
The Chappaqua Orchestra’s Kevin Moore, on bagpipes, played Amazing Grace.
Jordana Lichtenthal sang both the National Anthem and God Bless America.
As the sun emerged, Captain Gaudet called upon Captain Jim McCauley and Lt. Col. Michael Finkelstein to join him to read ‘The Honor Roll of New Castle War Dead,’ “those New Castle veterans fallen in defense of our country,” he said.
“In harm’s way around the world, Americans have performed amazing acts of selfless service. They are sources of inspiration and motivation, and we honor them by doing our best to serve our family, to serve our community and to serve our great country.”