Residents take a day to salute and honor Veterans

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:13

    SPARTA -Although Monday was considered a "wash out" because of rain showers that put a damper on outdoor picnics, for some the true meaning of Memorial Day was not lost. Before the rains began, at a little past 9 a.m., Doris Kalafut of Ogdensburg visited the First Presbyterian Church cemetery on Main Street in Sparta to pay her respects to lost family members. She visited many graves, but the primary reason for her visit was to remember her late husband, Michael P. Kalafut, a World War II and Korean War veteran. Michael, who was wounded in Korea and eventually retired from the military believed in the importance of America's soldiers. "He grew up with a great deal of military devotion," said Kalafut. "He was one of eight children, seven of which were in variousbranches of the armed forces." Kalafut can remember moving around often because of this devotion, and how she gave birth to a child while they were stationed in Germany. His dedication rubbed off on his own children, one of whom joined the Navy. "This is one day out of the year that we can honor -- in a minute way -- the men and women who have fought for our freedoms," said Kalafut. "This is the least that we can do." As she checked on flowers she had planted at various headstones, she could not help but be reminded of America's current war efforts overseas, and how she hopes that the this new crop of soldiers returns home safely. Kalafut considered her husband lucky for having been able to live a full life. Kalafut, who was born and raised in Sparta, said that although she understands that everyone will die someday, it is extremely difficult to deal with losses of young people who have not gotten the chance to live their lives to the fullest. She added that oftentimes Americans forget how fortunate they are to live in this country, and how they should be proud of the people who fought to keep it what it is. "I want people to remember our freedoms, and appreciate and be thankful for them," said Kalafut. "Some countries do not know what freedom is." Less than an hour, later approximately one mile away, Sparta's annual Memorial Day Parade kicked off, and hundred of local residents showed their support to America's soldiers. In addition to township dignitaries and members of the police, fire, and ambulance squads, everybody from Boy Scouts to Miss Sparta candidates showed their backing by either driving or marching in the ensemble. As is traditional, immediately following the ceremony, the Sparta Ski-Hawks performed on Lake Mohawk to a large number of spectators before the rain clouds arrived.