We had a unique experience here in the Finger Lakes of New York yesterday. We laid a veteran to rest.
Now, that might not sound like a compelling event … but this veteran was recently identified as an MIA from the Korean conflict.
Corporal Elmer Kidd enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1948 shortly after graduating from Mynderse Academy, Seneca Falls. He was reported Missing in Action during the Korean conflict near the Chosin Reservoir. His remains were recently identified through DNA testing, which confirmed a match with his lone surviving sister, Alberta Stuck. His parents, Eugenia Pearl and Floyd Kidd, seven sisters and a brother went to the grave not knowing what happened to their son and brother.
A Funeral and Welcome Home service were held Friday at Sanderson-Moore Funeral Home in his home town of Seneca Falls. A steady stream of visitors passed by the flag draped casket — most passing by Corporal Kidd for the first time in their lives. Members of the local Korean War Veterans, American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars were well represented and the Patriot Guard provided escort services. An Army Honor Guard, in full dress uniform, was on hand from the time Corporal Kidd arrived at Hancock Airport, Syracuse, Tuesday, through his funeral service and at the cemetery with full Military Honors. State Senator Michael Nozzolio — also a Mynderse graduate many years later — gave the eulogy.
But that’s not the story. The funeral procession wound its way from Seneca Falls, Birthplace of Women’s Rights, through Waterloo, Birthplace of Memorial Day, to Sampson Veterans Memorial Cemetery, Romulus, which was recently carved out of the former Sampson Naval and later Air Force Training Center, where 411,429 sailors and waves and an additional 16,000 air corpsmen were trained overlooking Seneca Lake. Along the 19 mile route, people stopped what they were doing to pay their respects to Corporal Kidd. Some held up “Welcome Home” signs … others stiffened and saluted as the hearse passed by … others applauded.
Corporal Kidd was initially declared Missing in Action in November 1950 after the Battle of the Chosin Reservoir. The Army declared him Killed in Action in October 1954, but his remains, in box CIL1993-312 among 208 turned over by North Korea in December 1993, remained unknown in Hawaii until DNA testing confirmed his identity.
Corporal Kidd received numerous military decorations and honors, including a Purple Heart, United Nations Service Medal, Combat Infantry Badge, and Army of Occupation Medal with Japan Clasp and National Defense Medal.
It truly was an outpouring of respect. But isn’t that what Veterans Day is all about?
As we approach the 11th minute of the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, it’s not just a day off or a federal holiday. It is a time to remember all our veterans. Thank them for their service to our country. Remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice … like Corporal Elmer Kidd.
THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: You cannot soar with the eagles as long as you’re hanging out with the turkeys.