DANSVILLE — It was a bittersweet farewell as the community came out in remembrance of Staff Sgt. Alexandria Mae Gleason-Morrow.
Gleason-Morrow, 25, lost her life during a non-combat operation where she was stationed in Jordan on March 21. She was a mother, daughter, wife, and friend. Her sacrifice was honored by her fellow veterans, community, family, and friends on March 25. Many wreaths and flowers were placed at the Dansville Veterans Memorial in William Park to reflect on the life of our fallen soldier.
Dansville Boy Scouts Troop 38, Dansville Central Band, Patriot Guard Riders, Dansville VFW, Dansville American Legion, Livingston County Sheriff Thomas Dougherty, Dansville Central Community, Dansville Police Department, Dansville Fire Department, Dansville Ambulance, Dansville Mayor Peter Vogt, Dansville Supervisor Dennis Mahus, Livingston County Veterans Services Agency, New York State Troopers, Sen. Cathy Young, Congressman Chris Collins, American Legion Riders, and many others came to pay their respects to Airman Gleason-Morrow.
Livingston County Veteran Services Director Jason Skinner said the Livingston County Board of Supervisors and Veteran Services wish to offer the family of Alexandria Mae Gleason- Morrow, her friends, and the Dansville community their most heartfelt condolences.
“Staff Sgt. Morrow was a wife, a mother of two children, and a daughter to Stephanie Gleason. No one wants to become a Gold Star Mother, Stephanie Gleason you are not alone,” he said. “Staff Sgt. Morrow was raised here in Dansville. Dansville is a patriotic place with an active Moose Lodge, many church volunteer groups, the American Red Cross Clara Barton Chapter One, The American Legion and VFW. The Dansville community honors its veterans so often that it was no surprise that she chose to join the Air Force.”
Gleason-Morrow served eight years, and this was her second deployment in support of the GWOT.
“All of the veterans here today have a common bond with our comrade and sister Staff Sgt. Morrow,” Skinner said. “Like her, no matter the circumstances or the period of service we all raised our right hand and said ‘I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic.’ She made the ultimate sacrifice for what makes us free.”
“Her name is now synonymous with the word freedom. It is tragic she will not become the art teacher she wanted to be,” Skinner continued. “She will have taught us today to appreciate art as that’s what she gave her life for. Her legacy is our freedom. Today we the veterans groups who stand before you make this promise to the family and Dansville. We will rededicate ourselves to our missions and continue to serve our communities. We will honor Staff Sgt. Alexandria Mae Gleason-Morrow today, when she is laid to rest, and every Memorial Day.”
Dansville VFW Commander David Neu wanted to offer his condolences to the family.
“We are awfully sorry for your loss. This happens to lots of people,and we all realize it. There is no stopping it,” he said. “Life goes on. We are sorry for your loss. None of us here can properly answer ‘Why there is war.’ Our veterans are trying to defend our country the best they can.”
Patriot Guard Riders normally present a plaque to the family, but this was on short notice. However, they plan on presenting this plaque as soon as it is ready. Some fellow airman and guards presented the family with challenge coins instead.
Chaplain Chris Geiselmann offered some words of comfort to the family.
“We pause to gather in the quietness of remembrance over our comrade Alexandria Morrow,” he said. “Who is transferred from our ranks to a post everlasting. Days ago she stopped before us, we laughed with her, and laid down a portion of our lives. She contributed both large and small. We have been touched by what she did. We are truly aware of your everlasting presence. We salute you.”
Skinner mentioned how this ceremony came together.
“When we first heard the news and as the story developed people started calling my office and asked what we were going to do. We had to do something,” he said. “It is kind of organic that everything just came together. There is an outpouring of support for the family. We felt as though all we had to do is start with one step. Everyone one else would fall in line.”
Skinner added this is what small-town America does for one of their own.
“When someone is hurting random acts of kindness happen,” he said. “She (Alexandria) was a bright spirit. She loved arts. She was very talented. It is tragic that she was taken from us before she realized what her freedom and pursuit of happiness meant. The most tragic part of this whole entire story is that her life got cut short.”
Skinner added that he hopes what they did today meant something to the family.
“I am amazed that in small town America people come from all around to honor those who have served,” he said. “People came out in the rain and cold to support the family.”
US Air Force Veteran Rob Stone said his wife taught Alexandria, and that this ceremony was a little different than what they usually cover.
“There was more of a turn out for this, because she was from Dansville. She is one of our own,” he said. “We always support our veterans. It is a sad time, and so many people came out to support this and comfort the family. This is important to me, because I served in the US Air Force for six years during Desert Storm. She was one of our own, and we all come together for our own. We are always here to support one another. Even on such a short notice people came from all over Her loss is very important to us.”
Dansville Central students Rhett Sullivan and Hunter Stone said that many of the teachers remember her and are saddened by this loss.
“It was very tragic. She died real young,” Sullivan said. “We are a very close-knitted community.”
Stone mentioned she was the type of student that everyone knew and loved.
“A lot of teachers knew her,” he said. “We all come to support each other.”
Gleason-Morrow is gone but will never be forgotten by all who loved her.