Waterloo New York, the officially recognized Birthplace of Memorial Day. The 155th consecutive Memorial Day Commemoration was held in Waterloo on May 30, 2021. The commemoration started at St. Mary’s Cemetery with a fly over by 5 vintage planes, organized by Lauren Dates. Prayer was offered by Rev. Roy Kiggins from St. Francis & St. Clare Parish, followed by gun salute & taps. Then on to Maple Grove Cemetery, where prayer was offered by Rev. Jeff Haugaard from St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, wreaths were laid followed by gun salute and taps. On to Elisha Williams Cemetery where prayer was offered by Chuck Nightingale, Waterloo American Legion Chaplin, followed by gun salute and taps. The ceremonies concluded at Lafayette Park with the laying of wreaths, prayer by Chuck Nightingale, VFW commander, gun salute and taps. Thank you to Assemblyman Jeff Gallahan and Senator Pam Helming for their presentations. https://youtu.be/QDlT72b3a3U
On Sunday morning May 30th, veterans will be assembling at St. Mary’s Cemetery at 11:00 a.m.
There will be a veteran sponsored flyover followed by prayer, wreath laying and gun salute. Similar ceremonies will be then held at Maple Grove & Elisha Williams cemeteries on Stark Street and then at LaFayette Park to observe Memorial Day and salute our fallen soldiers for the 155th year in The Birthplace of Memorial Day! These services will be filmed and made available for viewing here on the Village Website.
New to this year’s celebrations, we have joined forces with an organization that goes by the name of Operation Build Up. They are a non profit organization based out of Avon, NY. They are a team of former marines that come together and rebuild vehicles for veterans in need.
Their mission is “to have an impact on the 22 veteran suicides per day and homelessness statistics by surprising veterans with the basic items needed for survival in a civilian lifestyle. Our goal over the next year is to surprise over 150 veterans with vehicles and complete home furnishings all across New York state!” Operation Build Up has not only given cars away but this past Christmas they gave a veteran and his family a home to live in rent free for four months. OBU came together as a team and collected donations from near and far and was able to make a dream come true for this veteran during a time of need.
Excerpt from CEO and Founder of Operation Build Up, Justin Cogswell:
Many people do not realize how difficult of an adjustment it can be to move from military life into civilian life for many veterans. Most of our heroic veterans return home from service with just enough personal belongings to fit in their vehicles. Many also have skill-sets that are strictly combat related making the transition into civilian life a challenge. Veterans are brave, dedicated, selfless people by nature.
Anyone that has met a hardened military veteran understands that they are the last people in the world to ask friends and family for help, or express their troubles. They are expected to be able to figure it out because “He or she is a Marine!”, “Or a Soldier!”…. This attitude adds more pressure to our already overwhelmed veterans. Yes there are many programs offering needed assistance, most of which have requirements based upon percentage of disability, discharge classifications, discharge dates, and many additional criteria that further complicate assistance.
Operation Build Up is here to change these circumstances. Regardless of the criteria. We will help every veteran that we can with the necessary tools for survival in a civilian atmosphere, young and old. Whether you have served in Operation Iraqi Freedom, Vietnam, or any other conflict; we will do all we can to come to your aid.
Imagine if we could have an Operation Clean Out To Build Up warehouse in every major city! By giving restored vehicles and furniture we give them a comfort, sense of belonging, and the tools necessary to create stable lives. The effect on Veteran’s homelessness and suicide statistics would be dramatic.
We Won’t Leave You Behind, Our Team Strives To Simplify The Process Of Getting Resources To Our Veterans.
Operation Build Up will be joining us this year in surprising one of our local veterans with a car of their very own right here in Waterloo.
If you are looking for a Schedule of Events, Event Map or 5k Race Map, or need an Application for an event or wish to be a vendor, please visit this link.
Sons of The American Legion National Commander
Greg “Doc” Gibbs was elected national commander of the Sons of The American Legion in Minneapolis, Minn., during the 47th national convention of the Sons of The American Legion.
Greg “Doc” Gibbs was born in Buffalo, NY, the son of a World War II combat Marine. Doc comes from a three-star WWII family where his father and his two uncles all served in WWII and in Korea. Doc’s father served in the Pacific Theater in such hot spots as Bougainville, Iwo Jima and Tinian. The Marine Corps ethic had been passed down to both Doc and his younger brother growing up under some strict rules. Doc’s younger brother, Jeff, served in the Navy during the Vietnam War.
Doc has served the Sons for over 19 years through the Hamburg Post #527 in Western New York and received an honorary life membership from his Squadron and Post in 2015. Hamburg is a suburb of Buffalo, NY and boasts the largest Post in combined Legion Family membership in New York. He is currently a tenured university professor and has served as a public school administrator, holding a doctorate/PhD degree from the University of New York at Buffalo in administration. As a tenured Associate Professor, Doc has chaired the Educational Leadership department and served as program director at St. Bonaventure University for the past 13 years.
Greg served for several years as the only university faculty member on the “Veteran Friendly Campus Committee” at St. Bonaventure University since its inception, setting policy and making recommendations to the university to create a better environment for admissions candidates from the military and newly enrolled veterans and their families.
His most recent activity has been as the Legislative Chairman for the Detachment of New York for the past 8 years. While serving as Legislative Chairman he was honored to receive the George B. Evans Grassroots Advocate of the Year in 2013 at the Houston, Texas convention from National SAL Commander Huntzinger (PA). Doc continues to serve on Congressman Christopher Collins (Rep.-NY) Veterans Affairs Committee. While serving as SAL National Vice Commander, Doc had the opportunity to attend the American Legion Congressional Hearing given by Legion Commander Michael Helm in 2014, sitting in place of Commander Michael Moss (CO).
Doc has attended National NECs and Conventions since 2006 and has served as a committee member on the National Children and Youth Committee for several years, National Vice Commander from the East, and most recently as Chairman of the Americanism Commission under Commander Kevin Collier (AK).
Doc has served as Squadron, County, and District Commander in the past years and has also served as Detachment Commander for New York in 2011-2012. He also served as National SAL Vice Commander from the East in 2014-2015 under Commander Mike Moss (CO). One of Doc’s proudest accomplishments was being the co-founder of the William P. O’Connell Memorial ROTC Scholarship from the New York District 7 and 8 Sons that is now in its tenth year, giving scholarship and recognition to a worthy cadet at two of New York’s universities that boost large ROTC programs (Rochester Institute of Technology and St. Bonaventure University). Doc received a National American Legion Award for his “contribution and impact to education” from National Legion Commander Paul Morin in 2006.
He is a 9 year member of the Legion Riders, Orchard Park Post #567 and also proud to wear the colors of the 9-11 Memorial Post #2001 Riders Group as a charter member as well. Doc attended the New York Legion College in 2011, the first year the Sons were invited to attend. Doc has been honored to serve as a Legion College of New York Faculty member the past four years, the only SAL member to ever do so, co-teaching a session on legislation.
Doc currently serves as the VAVS representative to the Buffalo, NY VA Hospital.
Doc joined TALARC (The American Legion Amateur Radio Club) in 2011 when it first started. He holds a general license under the call sign WA2GKG. He has successfully completed the three NMI (National Management Institute) training sessions, the American Legion Extension Institute program, and the SAL 5 Star and 10 Ideals Programs.
Doc organized and ran the Erie County, NY level Oratorical Contest for the Legion for several years. He has served as a judge at the National Oratorical Contest in Washington and sat on the first committee to help organize the National American Legion-Samsung Scholarship Alumni Association in 2016.
Doc is the Sons representative on the “Vets 4 Vets” Erie County American Legion Committee that is on a multi-year mission to build the first shelter for homeless women vets and their children in New York State. This concept differs in the fact that single mothers who are vets can seek shelter there with their children while they get their lives together and seek education and employment opportunities; all at no cost to the women veterans.
His daughter and son have been members of the Legion family and he has been married to his wife Pam for over 44 years. Pam’s father, Albert Kramer II ,also served in the Army just prior to the Korean War.
Doc and his wife serve as Rotarians with the West Seneca, NY Rotary Club and is also a 36 year member of Amherst Lodge F&AM #981 and a Shriner with Ismalia Shine of Buffalo, NY. Doc received a prestigious Paul Harris Fellow Award from West Seneca Rotary in 2013 for work with veterans and local community.
Greg has served as President of the State University of New York at Fredonia Alumni Association for over 7 years and currently serves on the University’s Foundation Board as well.
With his campaign motto of “Honoring the past…..Continuing the Legacy”, he truly looks forward to helping our national organization move forward and aiding the Legion as they approach their next 100 years of service to veterans, military, and our youth.
This is a short recap of the 2015 ceremonies.