GLOVERSVILLE - Kevin Jones told the crowd at a service Saturday to thank a veteran.
"If you want to do something, just say thank you," Jones said in front of City Hall during the service after Saturday's Veterans Day parade. "We're proud and we're glad to have done what we did."
Jones is the director of the city Department of Public Works. He served in the Army from 1981-87 and the National Guard from 1987-92.
Kevin Jones gestures as he speaks during the Gloversville Veterans Day service at Gloversville City Hall on Saturday.
The Leader-Herald/Bill Trojan
Gloversville Police Chief Donald VanDeusen salutes during the playing of the National Anthem at the Veterans Day service at City Hall on Saturday.
The Leader-Herald/Bill Trojan
In his speech, Jones told a story about his childhood neighbor "Pete."
"He was a nice old guy," Jones said. "He used to walk up and down the street and I'd talk to him, and we all knew, even as kids, that there wasn't something quite right with him."
Jones said Pete had difficulty talking. He would repeat himself over and over, but no one knew exactly what was wrong with him.
At a town parade, Jones recalled seeing Pete dressed in his original World War II uniform with "a bunch of medals on it." This prompted Jones to go to Pete's younger sister to find out more about him.
"[Pete's sister] said he went off to war with the rest of the young men of his time, and she said he came home, and when he came home, it was not the same," Jones said. "She said a few years later, he never could really talk about it or explain it, and she said when they got his duffel bag that he brought home with him, they were unpacking his stuff and they found in the duffel bag the explanation to what the problem was, or what had happened."
In the bag was a Purple Heart medal for the wounds Pete sustained and a Silver Star medal for gallantry on the battlefield. Pete's sister said all they knew about what had happened to him was written on the citation of the Silver Star medal.
"Evidently, [Pete] had been in an infantry unit somewhere [in Europe] and they were being shelled, and as the unit was withdrawing to get away from the artillery fire, there were guys out there that were wounded," Jones said. "Pete went back and was carrying guys out and had carried a number of men off the field who had been wounded, and somewhere along there, one of the shells got a little too close."
Pete had suffered from a traumatic brain injury, according to Jones.
"[Pete's sister] said probably the most important thing there is to be said, she said, [is] 'don't feel sorry for him; he doesn't feel sorry for himself.' He's proud. He's proud of what he did for his country, he's proud of what he did for those guys he carried off the field," Jones said.
Jones said Pete's sister advised him to say "thank you" to Pete, since Jones was at a loss for words.
Jones advised Saturday's crowd to do the same thing.
Before Jones spoke, two Girl Scouts presented a wreath to honor veterans.
Mayor Dayton King also spoke briefly, telling the crowd the event remembers the service members who lost their lives fighting for their country.