A large turnout was on hand for the Noonday Club's Citizen of the Year dinner, held this past Tuesday, September 19 at the Eagle's Nest in Bloomingburg. The evening was held in honor of Sergeant Eddie Ryan, the young man who was injured by friendly fire on a rooftop in Iraq nearly two years ago.
The evening began with drinks and conversation as most of the area's most active citizens arrived and mingled prior to the night's program.
One such citizen was Charles Dechon, who served in the Third Marine Division during Viet Nam. He weighed in on the night and on Sgt. Ryan. Dechon said, "Eddie really took a tough path. I mean, the Marines are tough to begin with. Eddie went out with the elite units. They go places that you don't hear about."
As a former Marine, Mr. Dechon was asked what he thought of Sgt. Ryan as this year's choice for Noonday Citizen of the Year. He replied, "I am very proud of him. And I am very proud of my community for recognizing the sacrifice. I hope we would stop and think about the other kids we have over there."
The program began after dinner with Dr. Richard Craft as the master of ceremonies and Jeff Kaplan, Chairman of the Citizen of the Year Committee, offering an introduction and welcoming remarks.
Due to Sgt. Ryan's injuries, he and his mother, Angie Ryan, were not able to attend. However, Ryan's father and sister, Chris and Felicia, were on hand to represent the family. Sgt. Ryan was on hand via a filmed presentation of Jeff Kaplan awarding the young man his Noonday Citizen of the Year award. The eleven-minute film showed Sgt. Ryan and his mother in the house that was remodeled through the efforts of local citizens in preparation for the Marine's return.
During the film presentation, it was said that Sgt. Ryan had been given orders to walk by the end of the year. Sgt. Ryan, speaking in a soft voice, replied, "Thanksgiving."
After the presentation, representatives from several area politicians, including Sue Kelly and Maurice Hinchey, were on hand to give special thanks and items of tribute to Mr. Ryan and his daughter. Among the items given were two flags that had been flown above the Capitol Building in Washington, DC at the request of Mr. Hinchey and Ms. Kelly. In addition to the flags, the Police Benevolent Association gave Mr. Ryan a check of $1,000.
Towards the end of the evening, Mr. Ryan approached the podium to a standing ovation. He stood there for a moment before saying, "All I can say is wow. I wish Eddie were here to see all the support he has."
He spoke about many things, including Eddie's condition, saying, "Eddie is doing better. He is a true warrior."
Mr. Ryan then spoke about the history and legacy of the Marines as fierce and noble fighters for America. He then thanked the Marines that had been in attendance as an Honor Guard for the event. Mr. Ryan said, "I look at these Marines in awe because they personify courage." Mr. Ryan then compared the Marines present with those that provided Eddie with immediate care after his initial wounding.
Ryan concluded his remarks by offering his heartfelt appreciation to the Noonday Club, the Town of Wawarsing and the Village of Ellenville.
Dr. Craft closed the ceremony with a poem and with a wish that everyone in attendance would hope to come true. Dr. Craft said, "I hope that some day your son will walk down Canal Street to the applause of the entire community."
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