CORTLAND - Giving his time and energy in order to aid those in need has been the driving force behind James Young's life.
Young served in the U.S. Air Force from 1956 to 1964, and he says it was because of this service that he now feels a bond and connection with other veterans leading him to focus his energy on their needs.
''I think it's a natural thing for a veteran to do,'' Young said. ''I think you have to understand the common thread that goes from one veteran to another. We're all on the same page and when people fall, I believe they deserve to be honored for their service.''
‘‘It’s my honor to serve.’’
— James Young
Young is a member of the Cortland American Legion Post 540 and the Trumbull County Honor Guard, which allows him to honor and show his appreciation for those who have served in the armed forces and have passed on.
''What we're doing is giving honor to those guys who've served in the past ... especially World War II,'' he said.
Post 540 Commander Roger Gardner nominated Young for his involvement with the post and his tireless efforts to honor his fellow veterans.
NAME: James S. Young
Years in Community: 10 years
Organizations: American Legion Post 540; Youngstown Air Base Community Council; Cortland Masonic Lodge; Youngstown Scottish Rite; Trumbull County Commission for Veteran's Services; Air Force Association
''It's all because of his past veteran service,'' said Gardner. ''He's very involved with our post and our Trumbull County Honor Guard ... it's an honor to us to be involved to give the respect those veterans deserve.''
As a member of the Honor Guard, Young was given the opportunity to take part in a death watch for unknown soldiers lost in service during World War II and the Korean War inside the rotunda in the Capitol Building in?Washington.
''We would serve for 24 hours, we would work one hour and then have three off ... that was the highlight of my time with the Honor Guard,'' Young said.
Young has also participated in the funerals of President John F. Kennedy and General Douglas MacArthur while he was stationed in Washington, D.C., as part of the Armed Forces Police.
Young's involvement with the Post goes beyond the normal activities as he has been a featured speaker for a number of other civic organizations.
''He's been a guest speaker with the Rotary Club, the Warren Women's Club...he explains what we do, our functions and what we are involved in,'' said Gardner.
According to Gardner, the honor guard has participated in 1,307 military funerals with full honors for veterans from Trumbull and Mahoning counties since Jim joined the honor guard in 2005. In 2010 alone they had 248 funerals, participated in at least eight parades and Posted and Retired the Colors in 20 ceremonies for Veterans and Memorial Day, Gardner said.
His nomination to be named a Community Star came as a surprise to Young.
''I was shocked when Roger said he was going to nominate me,'' Young said. ''These things, it's just something that has to be done.''
''He's very dedicated to what we're doing,'' said Gardner. ''He gets involved and takes responsibility for what he does. If something needs to get done he goes out and does it.''
Although he sees his involvement with veteran services as his duty, his wife agrees that he deserves to be recognized for his efforts.
''He does deserve this because it's a sacrifice,'' said Nancy Young. ''At his age, he could be golfing everyday and sleeping until noon. He sees what it means to these people and that's what fuels him to keep going. The family is so moved, but because they are veterans honoring their own kind, it's not a sacrifice to them it's an honor.''
Along with being a member of the honor guard and the American Legion Post, Young is a commissioner for the Trumbull County Veteran Services Commission, which provide assistance to veterans in need.
Young says he is excited to be chosen as a Community Star and said that it marks the fifth year that he has been involved with the event as he and the honor guard have presented Colors at the annual banquet each of those years.