Welcome Home, Troops

September 19, 2005

From all across the United States there are brave men and women defending the American way of life. Whether they are deployed overseas or returning home from the war on terror, these men and women who have so selflessly put their lives on hold deserve our utmost respect – and thanks.

Recently, two buses filled with local National Guardsmen returned home to Geneva. More than 500 ecstatic family members, friends and neighbors greeted the troops, who served in Iraq since October 2004.

A member of the group, Pvt. Stephen Tschiderer, a medic, was shot in the chest by an enemy sniper during an incident in Iraq. Amazingly, Tschiderer was able to get up, thanks to his protective body armor, track down and capture the insurgent sniper. The sniper, who also was wounded, was treated by Tschiderer – an ode to the courage and compassion of our American soldiers.

Soldiers like Tschiderer and countless others are the pride of America, and especially of the Central New York and Finger Lakes regions. These men and women represent America by being honest, caring, brave and strong. They represent the ideals we hold closest to our hearts and that make us the greatest nation in the world.

It’s no secret we are a state and nation divided over the validity of the war in Iraq. Regardless of our feelings about the war, I think we can all agree that our military personnel at home and those who are serving overseas need and deserve our respect and support. They need to know we appreciate what they do and everything they give up.

I offer my most sincere thanks to all soldiers who have given of themselves to protect us and our way of life. They are fighting for our freedom. I welcome them home as heroes and pray for the safe return of their soldier colleagues.