Friday, June 26, 2009

Veterans arrive for convention, visits to replica of 'The Wall'

Veterans arrive for convention, visits to replica of 'The Wall'
Statewide VFW convention in Buffalo rallies support to keep, enhance benefits
By Lou Michel and Jake May

Far from the front lines of foreign conflicts, veterans are assembling in Buffalo by the thousands to advance an agenda aimed at preserving and enhancing benefits they say were earned on the battlefield.

War veterans from several generations started gathering here Wednesday, with more than 900 motorcyclists escorting the largest traveling replica of the national Vietnam Veterans Memorial, known as “The Wall.”

There will be no shortage of those who pay tribute.

Today, some 3,000 Veterans of Foreign Wars members and their supporters open a statewide convention in downtown Buffalo. When they’re not focusing on health care and other issues, they will ride shuttles to Knox Farm State Park in East Aurora to visit the Vietnam memorial.

Amid all this, a deep sense of camaraderie will be shared among those who fought for American freedom. Making it even more hospitable, organizers say, is Buffalo’s reputation for patriotism.

“Everybody feels very welcome, and they are happy to be here,” said David M. Czarnecki, an Alden resident and president of the 90th annual New York Veterans of Foreign Wars Convention, which continues through Sunday in the Hyatt Regency Buffalo.
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Veterans arrive for convention

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