North Country Troopers (and Proud Citizens) Honor our Troops
We had the opportunity to have a front row view of the third annual “North Country Troopers Assisting the Troops" event in Clayton, on Saturday, September 19th. I have to say that this is one of the river's most inspiring events and I would encourage anyone who hasn’t been at one to put it on your calendar for next September. Having nearly missed the event last year, Bob and I made sure we got there early and found ourselves some front row seats to this amazing display of North Country patriotism, and the beautiful outpouring of support for our troops. And the key people who orchestrate this wonderful event are heroes themselves.
This was the third annual "North Country Troopers Assisting the Troops" guided fishing trip for our servicemen and women held at 1:00 PM in Clayton’s Frink Park. When we first arrived, we were told that over 80 soldiers had been taken out fishing in boats earlier that day, which were owned by local charter fishing guides from three area communities (Clayton, Alexandria Bay, and Cape Vincent). As they did last year, the A-Bay fire truck had pulled down to the dock and was flying a giant flag from the top of its raised lift. The plan was to have all of the boats meet at a certain time, just a little west of Clayton, and then bring the soldiers back to the main dock in a giant parade led by the Clayton fireboat shooting its hoses sky-high as it approached. By that time a fairly large, and very excited crowd had formed under and around the pavilion despite some rather ominous looking skies. Our job was simple: we were there to cheer for our troops! And we were more than ready!
The Firemen and Troopers were there onshore to help the soldiers (and their catches) out of the boats. But moments before the first boat arrived, a gust of wind snapped the wires holding the giant flag and it nearly dropped into the river below. There was a momentary hush from the crowd. The Troopers and Firemen on the dock all ran for the flag and lifted it up, stretched it out and held it up proudly, on the dock. But the troopers and firemen had other responsibilities that they were well aware of as the first boat approached the dock. Suddenly, men, women and children all ran down and surrounded it in a giant human frame. The firemen and troopers were now free to assist the soldiers, many of whom were holding up their catches to a cheering crowd.
It took quite a while for all of the boats to drop-off their precious cargo, and the 80+ soldiers all stood on the dock, until everyone was there. Then, they were all asked to stand together, there on the dock, behind the giant human-held flag, while the crowd roared our support. And cheer, we did, at least as best we could, while trying to hold back our tears. The soldiers were then escorted through the applauding crowds and over to a giant tent, by the 1000 Islands Harbor Hotel, where they feasted on a shore dinner, fried-up from some of their own catches.
This is the second time Bob and I have had the honor of being part of this deeply moving event. We are touched by the fact that those who already serve us so faithfully – our Firemen and Troopers – along with the local fishermen from three communities and the citizens, themselves, all come together to thank those who willingly put their lives on the line for us. And it was clear from the faces of the young men and women climbing out of those fishing boats, and walking through the cheering crowds, that they got the message. We made a short movie, highlighting some of our favorite moments of the day, and put it up on YouTube
We wanted to let people know about this special annual event. Shortly after uploading our video we received a note from Mike Pastuf who is a Senior Investigator of the New York State Police in Watertown and who is also the Secretary of North Country Troopers Assisting Troops. He thanked us for our production and encouraged us to help get the word out so that more people will be there to cheer next year.
He wrote, " As a member of Troopers Assisting Troops, we put a lot of effort forward to make this day special, for our Armed Forces members. One of our biggest hurdles is getting the word-out, when this event occurs, and getting the public behind it to welcome our soldiers to the dock. As you know, it can be pretty emotional for the soldiers, and persons in the crowd alike... Next year it appears at present that we can connect our event, with the Clayton Car Show, to have more persons on the Town Dock, at the soldiers arrival. All this helps us make it 'bigger'. " You can stay tuned to the singercastle.blogspot.com
for more details about next year's event as they become available.
What makes this whole event so extra special, is that those who work so hard to organize it for our troops, are heroes, themselves, who risk their lives for others every day. I think of these beautiful words, which seem so appropriate for them all: “No one has greater love than this, that someone would lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).
Thank you, again, to all of the many people who came together to make this a special day, for some very special people. God bless our servicemen and women, and God bless our local Troopers, Firemen, and Fishermen who made this event possible.
By Patty Mondore
Patty Mondore and her husband, Bob, are summer residents of the Thousand Islands. Patty is a published author and a singer/songwriter. Her most recent books include “River Reflections: A 90-Day Devotional for People Who Love the Water” and its sequel, “Nature Reflections: A 90-Day Devotional for People Who Love Nature.” Her other books include” River-Lations: Inspirational stories and photos from the Thousand Islands,” and “A Good Paddling, Proclaim His Praise in the Islands, and Perennial Faith.” Her latest book is "A Bird Lover’s Reflections: A 90-Day Devotional for People Who Love Birds". Patty and Bob, co-authored “Singer Castle,” and “Singer Castle Revisited” published by Arcadia Publishing, and co-produced Dark Island’s “Castle of Mysteries” documentary DVD, in addition to a Thousand Islands music DVD trilogy. Patty is a contributing writer for the “Thousand Islands Sun”. Her column, "River-Lations", appears in the “Vacationer”, throughout the summer months. The Mondores are online at www.gold-mountain.com.