Ball’s Veterans Hall of Fame Honors Local Heroes
MAHOPAC, N.Y. – Veterans were met with cheers, applause and, in one Marine’s case, chants of “oorah,” when they were awarded plaques Thursday night. The veterans were inducted into state Sen. Greg Ball’s Veterans Hall of Fame in his third annual ceremony, held at Mahopac Falls Elementary School. The induction featured 27 servicemen and women this year, all from Ball’s 40th Senate District.
The group included veterans from World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.
“How great it is to be in a room of patriots who love this country, believe in this country,” said Ball, chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans, Homeland Security and Military Affairs.
The Mahopac High School PACapella choir sung “America the Beautiful” to set the night’s patriotic mood.
The evening began with a ceremony for prisoners of war and soldiers missing in action. The veteran who led the ceremony said that a single lit candle, which stood on a small table, represented the nation’s open arms – ready to welcome home missing service members who return home.
Dale Beatty, a National Guard veteran, was the keynote speaker. In 2004, Beatty was wounded in a land mine explosion in Iraq. Both of his legs were amputated below the knee and he spent more than a year at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center learning how to walk with prosthetic legs.
When he returned home, some of the medical center’s accommodations were gone: ramps, wider doorways and roll-in showers were no more. Beatty, along with his comrade John Gallina, decided to start Purple Heart Homes, with their own disability money, to help injured veterans.
“We did not leave them behind on the battlefield and we will not leave them behind at home,” he said.
Friends and family members accompanied their veterans to the stage for pictures with Ball, Beatty and Lt. Gen. Joseph Anderson, commanding officer of the XVIII Airborne Corps, based at Fort Bragg, N.C.
Anderson attended the ceremony to accept the Hall of Fame award on behalf of his father, Ralph Anderson, a resident of the Veterans Home of Montrose. Ralph Anderson’s wife, Josephine, also was present.
“He taught me service to nation,” the Fort Bragg commander said of his father. Joseph Anderson said he knew well before he was old enough to enlist that he would serve in the armed forces.
A slideshow with each veteran’s picture and a brief history of their achievements was shown in conjunction with the presentation of the plaques.
“What an honor it has been to do work for our veterans,” said Ball, who is a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy at Colorado Springs and a veteran of the Air Force.