Thanks to the efforts of the student members of the Keuka College Veterans Club, a local veteran will be able to participate in an Honor Flight from Rochester to Washington, D.C. in the spring.
Honor Flight Rochester is one of 130 hubs in a national network which enables members of the military who served during WWII, the Korean, Vietnam or Cold Wars, to travel free of charge to Washington, D.C. to visit the monuments and memorials honoring their service. The non-profit program, coordinated by volunteers, funds trips entirely through the generosity of donors and sponsors. Veterans fly to D.C. accompanied by a “guardian” who assists them in navigating travel to and from the various sites.
The Keuka College Veterans Club conducted two fundraisers in the spring to raise $300 to donate toward the Honor Flight Program; a veteran’s trip is valued at $500. At this year’s Veterans’ Day ceremony in Norton Chapel, Siobhan Costain ‘17, president of the club, participated in a symbolic gesture of giving to a local veteran; a formal check presentation was made Dec. 17 on campus.
“A lot of times veterans are forgotten more than they should be,” said Costain, whose father and grandfather served in the military. “We are awed by the fact that these men and women have done so much for the country, and this is what we could do for them.”
P. Earle Gleason, former director of the Yates County Veterans Service Agency and an Army veteran who served in Vietnam, helps coordinate Honor Flight travel for Yates County veterans along with locals Norm Koek and Andy Swarthout. According to Gleason, some 23 veterans from throughout the county have taken Honor Flights to D.C. so far and another six to eight have applications in process for the coming year.
The Penn Yan volunteers help coordinate local contingents of Yates County veterans to travel together within one of the three honor flights offered from Rochester each fall or spring. Honor flights are awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis, with priority given to veterans of the oldest eras first, then to those in more recent service eras suffering terminal illness.
Unlike other Honor Flights around the country, veterans who travel from Rochester enjoy a 36-hour trip, including an overnight stay at the Hilton Hotel at Baltimore-Washington International airport after a full Saturday of travel to D.C. memorials. A special banquet is hosted for the veterans that evening and according to Rich Stewart, president of Honor Flight Rochester, the time after the keynote speaker concludes can be “quite moving” as veterans begin to share their memories.
“A lot of them will open up and tell stories never told before, even with their families,” explained Stewart, who has made the trip a half dozen times as a guardian or bus leader. “People who’ve never publicly spoken in their lives will say ‘I need the microphone’ and it takes your breath away sometimes.”
Thanks to Honor Flight Rochester, 2,121 veterans have visited the military memorials since Rochester trips began in 2008, Stewart said, adding the vets are often greeted in D.C. by military and government officials. When veterans return to Rochester Sunday morning, they may find as many as 500 to 700 people to greet them, he said. In addition to friends and family, the airport welcome includes patriot guard riders bearing flags, a variety of community bands playing patriotic songs, and even members of the Knights of Columbus who create an archway of swords for veterans to pass under, Stewart described.
“It’s really a hero’s march, if ever there was one. It never gets old,” Stewart said. “Please thank the young folks down there for all they’re doing!”
Local veterans from WWII, the Korean War or ill veterans from the Vietnam or Cold War eras interested in applying for the next Yates County tour-within-a-tour are encouraged to contact Norm Koek at St. Mark’s Terrace or the Yates County Veterans Service Agency for an application to Honor Flight Rochester, Gleason advised. While applications can also be made directly online at www.honorflightrochester.com, online applicants may not be grouped with others from Yates County. The Yates County coordinators also work to defray travel costs for guardians.
One senior is fascinated with her family history. Another is focused on finding beauty in any body. And yet another is fixated on beads and jewelry. This trio of artists will showcase signature works during “Mixed Media Minds,” the senior art show at Keuka College’s Lightner Gallery.
Friendship resident Emma Wolf has crafted mixed media collages of her great-grandmother’s family using a typewritten essay, old photos recreated on tracing paper, and a wash of coffee grounds and water to create a vintage look. From collage renderings of parts of the bodies of many women, Kaye Field of Torrington, Conn. has fashioned one body, with a mirror in place of the head. Meanwhile, Ayuko Sakurai of Yokohama, Japan, south of Tokyo, has crafted multiple works with colored beads, jewelry and fabrics.
Each young woman is a visual and verbal art major, and all three will be on hand to greet the public at an artists reception, Thursday, April 24 from 4:30 – 6 p.m. at Lightner Gallery in Lightner Library, where light refreshments will be served. The show continues through May 16.
According to Melissa Newcomb, assistant professor of art, this exhibit features not just three unique styles, but three creative approaches to communicating an idea, emotion or experience, with each artist incorporating pieces of her life experiences
According to Field, body image and the concept of beauty remains an intrinsic struggle for women everywhere and became the subject of her work, “Beautiful Reflections.” She chose to use a variety of media “to depict how no woman and no person is the same. We are all created differently and all of these differences are what make us all beautiful,” she said.
Field said the women who participated in her project came from all over the world and showed their courage and bravery by sending her photos to use as inspiration for the work.
“The mirror is a big part of this piece. Everyone should look in the mirror and be able to smile at their reflection,” Field said.
Wolf, too, could cite courage and bravery of strong women in her family history, such as her great-grandmother, Lula May, and other relatives who survived in regions of Florida where wild, untamed shores and marshes made daily life a struggle. Scattered for display below her mixed media works of Lula May as a child, and later, an aging woman, are knickknacks and small treasures: old-fashioned pocket watches, arrowheads, a large seashell, and an heirloom quilt. A 1938 sepia tint photo shows Lula May as a young mother, standing on a windblown beach, with a child at her feet. Other family members also appear in Wolf’s creations.
“I became avidly interested in their struggle for survival and how they were able to push through and move on to better things, when times got tough for them,” Wolf said. “I wasn’t quite sure what to focus my project on, but writing the essay helped me figure that out.”
Another prominent piece within Wolf’s “Strong Roots” exhibit is a sculpture of a tree rising out of the pages of a book. The work, “Family Tree,” serves as a visual metaphor, she said.
For Sakurai, the intricate work of beading or sculpting jewelry echoes the same multiple dimensions, colors and facets of her personal history, studying abroad beginning at age 15 and traveling to more than 10 countries. One work she will display is a handmade dress designed from egg shells and other unique materials. According to Melissa Newcomb, assistant professor of art, Sakurai has been working on the dress for over a year.
“As I see something, I often find a connection between it and something I remembered [from my travel or study], which gives me a new layer of knowledge,” Sakurai said. “Different objects or ideas are connected through my interpretation. This makes my world muti-colored and multi-faceted, like a well-polished crystal and also stimulates me in combining both traditional and contemporary styles and concepts of art.”
During her January Field Period™ with a jewelry designer, Sakurai handcrafted her own unique gold necklace, and that experience ultimately led her to the Metal and Jewelry graduate program at Rochester Institute of Technology, where she will begin taking courses this fall.
Just this year, Keuka College began offering a new Art and Design program, providing more studio courses to give students opportunities to learn skills in a greater number of mediums. The increased diversity helps students build a portfolio with greater breadth, as well as develop strengths in a particular area, Newcomb said.
“In this case we have three seniors displaying work in multiple mixed mediums, which shows a range of experiences not only in their skills and abilities,” Newcomb said. “It also becomes a very personal but rewarding way to share their story, whether it relates to the past, present or future.”