SUNY Canton welcomed more than 30 World War II veterans and thanked the servicemen and women for protecting American freedoms at Friday’s Veterans’ Living History Ceremony.
There was an audience of about 200 family members, friends and area politicians to support the former service personnel.
The event was punctuated by the first public viewing of a 20-minute slideshow with a soundtrack of oral histories from World War II veterans collected by Michael T. Magilligan, assistant librarian at the Southworth Library Learning Commons.
“I couldn’t believe how willing these brave men were to let me into their homes and share their lives with me,” Magilligan said. “I didn’t just interview them, they’ve become my friends.”
Magilligan began recording the stories of North Country veterans in June and made copies of their old photographs. “When you hear these stories told to you by the people who were there it’s as if you are right beside them,” he said.
The accounts retold ranged from storming the beaches of Normandy on D-Day, The Battle of the Bulge and attacks against the Japanese in the Pacific Theater from approximately 70 years ago.
The assistant librarian will be adding all of the digital content to a database at the Southworth Library Learning Commons. They will also submitted to the Library of Congress and the New York State Veterans’ History Museum in Saratoga.
As part of the ceremony, the SUNY Canton Veterans Association and retired Major General Robert J. Kasulke presented each veteran with a SUNY Canton challenge coin. Challenge coins are typical given in the military to prove membership, award special achievement and enhance moral. At SUNY Canton, the Veterans Association issued the coin as a symbol of pride and camaraderie, according to William J. Fassinger, the faculty advisor for the student club.
Other representatives included Daniel L. Kaifetz, director of North Country Honor Flight, an organization dedicated to transporting veterans to Washington, D.C. to visit the memorials dedicated to their sacrifices. Command Sgt. Maj. Thomas W. Geddings was representing Fort Drum at the event.
About SUNY Canton
SUNY Canton is Northern New York’s premier College for career-driven bachelor’s degrees, associate degrees and certificate programs. The College delivers quality hands-on programs in engineering technology, health, management, and public service to students in the North Country, New York State, and beyond. Faculty members are noted for their professional real-world experience in addition to their academic credentials. SUNY Canton OnLine offers hundreds of flexible and convenient courses as well as eight exclusively online bachelor’s degrees. The College’s 14 athletic teams compete in state-of-the-art facilities as provisional members of the NCAA Division III and the USCAA.