On Veterans Day, Lake George reenactors have their own role to play

LAKE GEORGE, N.Y. (NEWS10) – The sun shone on the lawn of Fort William Henry Hotel and Conference Center on a chilly but bright Veterans Day morning. And it shone on 7,800 flags, laid out across that lawn in honor of local military veterans; both those who made it back, and those who did not.

The flags were part of a Veterans Day ceremony Thursday morning led by Sam Luciano, president of the Fort William Henry hotel; and joined by Warren County Supervisor Claudia Braymer. It also featured a musket salute from a trio of men in Revolutionary War-era outfits: Members of the Fort William Henry Patriot Guard.

“Veterans Day is special because it gives us a chance to say hello and thank you to all of our veterans,” said Rob Frasier, one of the musket-carrying reenactors honoring veterans on Thursday. “Not just those who have passed, but every veteran that’s still with us; that’s overseas; that’s anywhere.”

Frasier and his fellow reenactors at Fort William Henry dress in Revolutionary War-era garb – as accurate as he would want it to be if he were dressed as someone currently serving. Part of their job as reenactors is not just to interpret history, Frasier explains, but to honor veterans however they can. Events like Thursday’s ceremony are a key part of how his job as a historical actor connects to the history being made by soldiers past and present.

“Being at Fort William Henry lets me do that every day, but being here for something like this makes it even more special,” said Frasier, who has been a reenactor for the last 15 years.

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The field of flags at Fort William Henry in Lake George, N.Y. (Photo: Jay Petrequin)

The musket salute came after some opening words. To a crowd of around 35 people, Luciano told the story of a flight he had the opportunity to take in a B-17 Flying Fortress bomber airplane used in World War 2.

“It was so noisy that me and the companion I was traveling with, we couldn’t talk,” Luciano said at the podium. “It was noisy; it rattled; it shook all the way down. I couldn’t imagine being an 18- or 19-year-old service personnel, riding that plane that had a target on it, that shook and rattled so loud that you couldn’t talk.”

Luciano said his short flight from Floyd Bennett Memorial Airport in Queensbury to Albany International Airport gave him a whole new look at the bravery it took for soldiers in the Second World War. He got that same feeling when speaking to his own friends and family members who had served.

“The atrocities they’ve witnessed and the sacrifices they made became evident when I questioned them about their tours of duty, and their reluctance to even talk about it.”

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Visitors find the names of loved ones on lists of local veterans. (Photo: Jay Petrequin)

The 7,800 flags were arranged this year in displays that lifted them off the ground. They were coupled by plaques bearing the names and service dates of every local veteran honored at the ceremony.

Braymer emphasized the significance of passing Veterans Day celebrations down to the next generation. She did so while looking up at the Fort, facing the lake, and brought its local history directly into the conversation.

“From our ancestors’ earliest days fighting to defend Fort William Henry, to our early American veterans in the battle of Ticonderoga and the battle of Saratoga (…) and to those who fought against COVID on the U.S. ships Mercy and Comfort, thank you,” she said.

She said that veterans don’t see as much shared support as they used to, when more families had the shared experience of seeing loved ones off to war. That closeness, that camaraderie, reflects back to why Frasier loves donning his own uniform at the fort.

“It’s a brotherhood that we have,” he said.

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