We applaud local organizers, the Rome Area Chamber of Commerce, Mayor Jacqueline M. Izzo and a host of local sponsors for pulling together this year’s Honor America Days Concert on the lawn of the Fort Stanwix National Monument.
Although the state’s ever-shifting guidelines on COVID-19 made planning and organizing the traditional, full-slate of Honor America Days events impossible — despite the significantly reduced timeline, organizers and sponsors were able to salvage one of the key events of the city’s summertime tradition: The Symphoria Concert and Fireworks.
The event allows the community to pay tribute to veterans past and present and brings awareness to the region’s rich history, dating back to days before even the American Revolution. We are grateful for not just the world class music the event provides but for the opportunity to look back, with pride and patriotism, on the accomplishments of our ancestors and to celebrate these achievements, our region and our nations with our families, friends and neighbors.
While we can — and should — gather for this great event, we would be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge that this celebration of liberty not just depends upon the personal sacrifices of those who have come before us but also requires us to exercise our own personal responsibilities.
Whether or not people should be vaccinated for COVID-19 is another subject for another day, but as the coronavirus Delta variant becomes more widespread it is incumbent upon those who opted not to get the vaccine, as well as those who opted to get the vaccine, to do their part in not further spreading the virus.
For those of us who are vaccinated, state and federal guidelines do not require us to wear a mask nor to social distance in an outdoor setting; however simple personal hygiene steps (such as washing hands regularly and thoroughly) can help keep from spreading the virus.
For those who are not vaccinated, the federal Centers for Disease Control, however, recommends that these individuals should wear a mask and practice social distancing when in the immediate vicinity of others not of their same household. According to the CDC, attendance at “a crowded, outdoor event, like a live performance, parade, or sports event,” is in the “least safe” category for the unvaccinated. Such activities, the CDC warns, presents not only a risk to individuals of contracting COVID-19 but also of spreading it to others, including family members and friends.
According to vaccination figures on the Oneida County Department of Health’s COVID-19 Dashboard, 112,937 residents (or 57.1% of the county population) are fully vaccinated against the virus while 121,020 residents (or 61.2% of the county population) has received at least one dose of the vaccine. Approximately 4 in 10 county residents have not received the vaccine — as is their right; however, with this choice comes the responsibility to do their part to reduce their chances of spreading the virus to others — including wearing masks, practicing social distancing or skipping high-risk events or activities altogether.
Our nation was established on a set of lofty ideals which we proudly and rightfully celebrate during Honor America Days. Let’s cherish and celebrate them safely.