By Tom Loughlin, Jr.

Sun contributing writer

Utica’s Good News Center presented its Flags for Heroes & Families display and celebration on Utica’s Parkway Nov. 5-12. Proceeds from flag dedications honoring more than 1,000 veterans and active members of the armed forces will support The Good News Center’s work with military families, as well as organizations including the Central New York Veteran’s Outreach Center in Utica and Feed Our Vets.

   Good News Center Executive Director Mike Buckley and Associate Director Judy Hauck said that the organization had encountered an exceptionally high incidence of military families applying for help through the organization’s Third Option program, designed to help couples increase communication skills. Buckley commented that long overseas deployments exacerbated those problems.

   This year’s event included musical performances by La Banda Rossa led by director Arlene Iganccio, vocalist Donna Mucks, and NBC’s “The Voice” singing star Sawyer Fredericks. Keynote speaker retired Lt. Col. Father Paul Madej’s address reminded all that freedom is not free. Special gratitude was extended to the Notre Dame Jr./Sr. High School Naval Junior ROTC for providing the color guard, and for installing the forest of memorial flags on the Parkway mall.

   “We are already looking ahead to next year to make the event even better in order to recognize the sacrifices of our veterans and active military,” Hauck said.

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