By Rico Lopez SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) – Buildings around Syracuse are turning green, and it is not because of a special November St. Patrick’s Day celebration. The green glow is part of Operation Green Light, a mission to shine light on the service of veterans by illuminating buildings, homes, and state landmarks green.
The mission was established in 2021 in collaboration between the New York State Association-Counties, New York State Council of Educational Associations, and NYS County Veteran Service Officers’ Association. It was soon adopted by the National Association of Counties and spread to hundreds of counties nationwide. This year, 43 states participated.
Onondaga County showed their support by lighting the Onondaga County Courthouse, John H. Mulroy Civic Center, Veteran’s Cemetery, and more over the Veteran’s Day weekend. “We will never be able to thank enough those who have stepped up to protect this country and our rights,” County Executive Ryan McMahon said, “but this gesture is a small way to show our deep appreciation and gratitude for their sacrifice.”
Governor Kathy Hochul announced other state landmarks to be illuminated green such as Niagra Falls, State Fairgrounds, and the Fairport Lift Bridge.
By changing lights green veterans groups hope to start a conversation about the recognition of veterans in the country. “Usually on Veteran’s Day when [my dad and I] would go and get the deals or when he pulled out his military ID, people would say, ‘thank you for your service’” said Giovanna Barsalona, a daughter of a U.S. Veteran and current member of the Reserve Officer’s Training Corps, “but other than that I did not see too many people often thank him.”
The lights raise awareness for the challenges veterans face and the resources available. “One of the biggest challenges that I think myself and a lot of veterans face is finding that meaning and purpose in life afterwards,” said Charlie Poag is a Veteran and the Communications Manager at the D’Aniello Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University. The IVMF was launched in 2011 and provides resources and support for the issues affecting veterans. “You go from being part of something that is much larger than yourself, and you kind of get dumped back out into the world in your post-military life and it’s a struggle to find something to give you that drive to wake up in the morning.”
Something simple like changing lights to green, can have a deep impact on veterans. “As small and insignificant as it may seem to a lot of people to throw a green light on something, it is a nice visual indicator that, yes, there are people out there thinking about us and they do care,” said Poag.
You can show your support to veterans as well by simply changing one bulb to a green one.