Maj. Gen. Brian Mennes, 10th Mountain Division (LI) and Fort Drum commander, delivers his address in the New York State Senate chamber. (Courtesy Photo)
Senator hosts annual 10th Mountain Division and Fort Drum Day at New York State Capitol
ALBANY, N.Y. (May 15, 2019) – State Senator Patty Ritchie welcomed members of the 10th Mountain Division (LI), including its new commanding general, Maj. Gen. Brian J. Mennes, to the State Capitol on May 14 for “10th Mountain Division and Fort Drum Day.”
Now in its eighth year, the annual event recognizes the service and sacrifice of 10th Mountain Division Soldiers, and it highlights the positive economic impact of Fort Drum and the critical role the installation and its troops play in our national defense.
“It is truly an honor and a privilege not only to welcome the brave men and women of the 10th Mountain Division again to the State Capitol, but also to be their representative in the New York State Senate,” Ritchie said.
“I am in awe of their selfless service to our nation, and (I) know that 10th Mountain Division and Fort Drum Day has again helped to highlight for my colleagues the
tremendous sacrifices they make in the name of protecting our freedom, as well as the critical importance of Fort Drum to the North Country and New York state as a whole,” she added.
One highlight of 10th Mountain Division and Fort Drum Day was a special address by Mennes in the Senate Chamber.
State Senator Patty Ritchie meets with members of the contingent from Fort Drum, led by Maj. Gen. Brian J. Mennes, 10th Mountain Division (LI) and Fort Drum commander, and Command Sgt. Maj. Samuel Roark, 10th Mountain Division senior enlisted adviser. First row from left are Assemblyman Mark Walczyk; Jefferson County Board of Legislators Chairman Scott Gray; former Senator James Wright; Mennes; Ritchie; Roark; his wife, Deanna Roark, and Col. Kenneth Harrison, Fort Drum garrison commander. (Courtesy Photo)
During his remarks, Mennes – a Buffalo area native, West Point graduate and the first native New Yorker to lead the 10th Mountain Division – spoke about the 10th Mountain Division’s long military tradition, Fort Drum troops who had made the ultimate sacrifice, and support from the community and New York state that is vital to the strength of Fort Drum and its Soldiers.
“The cost of freedom is high, but in a community like ours, our men and women in uniform – the Soldiers on Fort Drum – find comfort and inspiration by a community that supports us,” Mennes said.
“It’s that welcome feeling that we get that gets us through those tough times, those tough winters, those tough training events and those tough deployments,” he continued. “It’s the special partnership that we enjoy in the North Country, and we know it’s partially because of the attitude that’s demonstrated here in this great chamber and exhibited by your leadership.”
As part of 10th Mountain Division and Fort Drum Day, a Fort Drum Color Guard opened the day’s Senate session. Lt. Col. James Foster, 10th Mountain Division chaplain, delivered the invocation. In addition, lawmakers adopted a Senate Resolution proclaiming May 14 as “10th Mountain Division and Fort Drum Day.”
This year, for the first time ever, the event included a performance by the 10th Mountain Division Band. In addition, Soldiers manned interactive, informative displays throughout the Legislative Office Building, where lawmakers and visitors could learn more about the 10th Mountain Division’s mission and new equipment being used in the field.
North Country community groups that aim to support Fort Drum also shared information on the work they do to strengthen the partnership between the area’s military and civilian communities.
Fort Drum is the largest U.S. Army post north of the Carolinas and east of the Mississippi River, and it is home to more than 30,000 Soldiers and Family Members. The 10th Mountain Division was the first to deploy Soldiers following the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, and they continue to serve in locations around the globe.
In addition, the installation is the engine that drives the North Country economy. Fort Drum is New York state’s largest single-site employer, employing nearly 4,000 civilians and supporting tens of thousands of jobs off post. According to a recent economic impact study, it was estimated that Fort Drum pumped roughly $1.42 billion into the North Country economy last year.
(State Senator Ritchie’s Office)