LAKE GEORGE, N.Y. (NEWS10) – At Fort William Henry, a field of flags is a common sight. On Friday morning, veterans and their families and survivors gathered from miles around to do what they do every year – observe Veterans Day, and the flags dotting the lawn at the fort’s hotel and conference center. Each one is placed in the memory of a veteran from the North Country – in an increasingly large radius.
Several dozen onlookers gathered to honor the veterans among them – as well as themselves, and their own service. The core of the conversation was what it often is – how to provide resources to those who have been through military service after they’ve made it home.
“It’s important that we reach out and create opportunities for those with disabilities, mental health issues, depression and other needs,” said Glens Falls Ward 5 Supervisor Ben Driscoll, head of Warren County’s Human Services Committee. “We can work together to combat those issues and get on the right path to self-sufficiency, so that they can enjoy all the freedoms that we enjoy as citizens.”
Warren County helps veterans get that help through, among other things, its peer-to-peer program. The county is currently working with SUNY Adirondack to connect veterans with their peers, to lend a listening ear or supporting shoulder from someone else who has walked in the same shoes. SUNY Adirondack held its own Veterans Day ceremony on Thursday.
The Field of Flags was first established by Fort William Henry in 2016. That year, 53 flags were posted on the lawn, in honor of 53 named veterans local to the village and town of Lake George.
On Friday, Warren County Supervisor Claudia Braymer gave a proclamation from the county, reporting that this year, the flag count was over 9,000 – growing by well over 1,000 in just a year, as more names from more conflicts have been added. Those names span Warren County, and extend beyond the county borders. They range in experience from conflict and enlistment dating back as far as the country’s founding.
In her address, Braymer acknowledged her family members who had served in the military – father, uncles and great-uncles. She found a way to connect to that part of her extended family’s world, by joining the Reserves.
“In college, I participated in the ROTC, which gave me a small glimpse into the demands, and the effort, and the lifestyle of the military. Those times with the ROTC are some of my most memorable, and I remember them with a strong sense of appreciation and gratitude for the service of those who have served and are still serving,” Braymer said.
Current officials weren’t the only ones to join Lake George area locals. Sitting humbly near the back of the crowd, former New York State Senator Betty Little attended, alongside her husband – himself a Navy veteran. Little has been commended for her work to improve life for New York veterans, both before and after her retirement at the end of 2020. Although the state today offers many services for veterans – such as disability compensation, job placement and training and education services – there’s always another step to be taken.
“One thing is making sure our veterans know what the services are, and our veterans offices and information in the newspaper; that they are able to know what is available to them, and what services they are able to recieve,” Little said. “Today, I just think it’s very appropriate to be here.”
The ceremony featured a full musket salute by the Fort William Henry Patriot Guard. The reenactor group provides services at many historical and veteran events around Lake George.