World War II veteran Arthur Cozwith spoke to the crowd in Pearl River's Braunsdorf Park Monday morning.spoke about his time abroad during the war and his experience as a POW.
He also talked about the effect World War II had on the country.
“We did what was best for America,” Cozwith said in reference to the country’s attitude during WWII. “Winning wasn’t our sole objective. It was our only option.”
Cozwith spoke as part of the ceremony following the John H. Secor American Legion Post 329 Annual Pearl River Memorial Day Parade, which began at First Niagara Bank on Middletown Road and ended at Braunsdorf Park on Central Avenue.
Community members lined the sidewalks of Central Avenue as the parade made its way to Braunsdorf Park. The Pearl River Memorial Veterans, AOH Division 3, Pearl River Boy Scout and Girls, the Pearl River High School Marching Band and the Pearl River Firefighters all participated in the march.
At the conclusion of the parade, a memorial service to honor and remember the ultimate sacrifice given to this country by local veterans was held at Braunsdorf Park by American Legion Post 329.
Cozwith was the guest speaker. In addition to speaking of his own experiences, he called for continued recognition and support of U.S. troops and veterans, and for the public to never forget about the sacrifices others have made for this country.
“Show your appreciation for the veteran community,” Cozwith told the audience.
Cozwith was also awarded a plaque of appreciation from the Veteran Association for his years of military service, as well as his work for the advocacy for veteran’s rights. Cozwith called the award “one of the greatest honors of my life.”
The Pearl River American Legion presented a representative of Montrose VA Hospital with a $1,000 check.
“On behalf of the veterans at the VA hospital we thank you,” the representative said. “All of this donation will go to what the veterans need.”
There were also music performances during the ceremony. Joseph McKiernan sang the National Anthem as well as “America the Beautiful.” The AOH Division 3 Pipes and Drum and the Pearl River High School Band also performed.
The ceremony ended with a gun salute by the Pearl River Gun Club and the dedication of wreaths for Pearl River Veterans who died this past year.
It was the second of two Memorial Day ceremonies in Braunsdorf Park. The annual candle light vigil was held Sunday night.