The North Country region of New York, Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence Counties, is one of five communities across the country named to the 2019 Class of Great American Defense Communities, the Association of Defense Communities (ADC) announced in conjunction with USAA, the program’s official sponsor.
The Great American Defense Communities program, now in its fourth year, recognizes military communities and regions that help improve the quality of life for service members and military families.
The 2019 class also includes Bay County, Florida, the home to Tyndall Air Force Base; Clovis, New Mexico, the community near Cannon Air Force Base; The Columbia-Greater Midlands, South Carolina, the region surrounding Fort Jackson; and Middle Georgia region which is home to Robins Air Force Base.
“Defined by a mission of force and family, readiness and resilience, America’s defense communities are the foundation of our military’s strength,” ADC President Bill Parry said. “The communities we recognize through the Great American Defense Communities program represent the best examples of what communities can do to create great places for our military families to live and work. We congratulate North Country region and look forward with sharing your story with the nation.”
The nomination of the North Country for the award was spearheaded by Edward W. “Fritz” Keel, Executive Director for Advocate Drum, the Fort Drum Regional Liaison Organization.
“We are humbled and honored to be selected as a Great American Defense Community for 2019. The North Country, Fort Drum, and the Soldiers of the 10th Mountain Division have enjoyed an indivisible relationship for more than 30 years, and we look forward to sharing our story,” Keel said.
For nearly 35 years, Advocate Drum has enjoyed a strong bond with our Army and the North Country Community. Advocate Drum exists to foster the relationship between Fort Drum and the North Country, mediate when conflicting interests materialize, and continually advocate at all levels, for Fort Drum, and the Soldiers, Civilians, and family members who serve there.
The North Country will celebrate this recognition locally on May 18, 2019 at the regional Armed Forces Day Parade in Watertown. Mr. Robert Ross, ADC Board Member, will present the Great American Defense Communities flag to the North Country at a ceremony preceding the parade at 9:30am on the reviewing stand in front of the Dulles State Office Building. The ceremony will be live-streamed on Running Boards trucks along the parade route on Washington Street as well as on the Advocate Drum Facebook page. The parade will begin at 10:00am, featuring participants from across St. Lawrence, Lewis, and Jefferson Counties and its theme this year is “North Country Strong”.
“North Country Strong represents all the best attributes of this wonderful community: our perseverance, our resilience, and our great partnership with Fort Drum and the brave men and women of the 10th Mountain Division. The red, white and blue lettering is symbolic of the patriotism and pride that flows through our communities and the three stars represent our three wonderful counties that we lovingly refer to as the North Country,” Keel said.
In June, a contingent with representation from all three counties will travel to Washington D.C. to share the North Country’s story with America at the Association of Defense Communities National Summit. During that conference, they will participate in the Taste of America Reception and provide a small gift bag featuring a specially labeled bottle of Saint Lawrence Red Wine from the Thousand Islands Winery, Lewis County Maple Syrup from Lyndaker’s Maple Orchard, a Little Trees Patriotic Car Freshener, and a custom-designed ice scraper emblazoned with “North Country Strong”. These items represent some of the best of the North Country and showcase just how special this community is.
The celebration as a Great American Defense Community will continue throughout the year, beginning with the first Watertown Block Party on June 28, 2019 at 5:00pm, which will celebrate the community partnership with Fort Drum and feature a performance by the 10th Mountain Division Band in Public Square.