U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, visited American Legion Post 574 in Hudson Falls to present a retired army veteran with a medal initially awarded nearly 60 years ago.
“It is a privilege and an honor to stand here with Corporal Jim Ganser. He is a veteran of the army and an influential journalist whose storied career has earned him this Army Commendation Medal,” said Gillibrand.
Ganser was notified by mail that he had received the medal at the conclusion of his army career in 1957, but he never received it. Recently, he contacted Gillibrand’s office, and the Senator made the trip to deliver the award in person.
While serving stateside in the 1950s, Ganser worked in the Army’s Public Information Office in Fort Knox, the Pentagon, and the Military District of Washington.
Among his proudest achievements in the army was producing radio shows broadcast to U.S. soldiers stationed in Canada.
“I instituted a weekly broadcast that was flown up to the GI’s up in the Arctic Circle in Churchill, Canada, and I think they really liked it, because I would give them popular music of the day, as well as any commentary and news I could gin up in the piece. They were happy about that and I was happy about it, and you could see them all gelling together. I’m saying to myself, ‘Jim, I hope that’s what you want in your future.’”
His show “Night Train to Churchill” brought news and entertainment to soldiers at the height of the Cold War. His program The Army Band Show still has an audience today.
After leaving the army, Ganser worked as a journalist for ABC News and the CBS News. At the ceremony, Ganser shared the story of his first day on the job, when he was to interview then-Senators John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson on their campaign for the White House.
During his career, he also interviewed Richard Nixon. Photos of him interviewing each future president were displayed at the front of the room.
Turning to Gillibrand, Ganser asked to have a photo taken with another Senator.
“Richard Nixon, Lyndon B. Johnson, John Kennedy. And who was the fourth one? You! The first three began my career, and I need a perfect picture of probably the last Senator I will interview, and I then will have a perfect fourth.”
In 1991, Ganser retired as a journalist and became a professional actor, with his first job at the Lake George Dinner Theater.
After the ceremony, Senator Gillibrand turned her attention to the press and answered a few questions.
On Friday, the Republican-controlled House again voted to approve the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline. The Democratic Senator said she doesn’t see why the pipeline, outside of temporary construction jobs, would be good for the U.S. economy, if the oil is intended to be shipped overseas.
“I see it as an ill-advised project, but I do understand why others support it because even if it could help a few thousand jobs, that could be very helpful to us. But it is just an enourmous amount of risk for very little reward.”
Gillibrand also weighed in on immigration. President Obama has announced he will take executive action to make immigration reforms without the aid of Congress. Gillibrand said existing policy is hurting New York’s agriculture industry, and is interested in what the president plans to announce.
“We really need certainty, and so if there’s certain things he can do in terms of visa caps or fixing the visa program, I think those are things he should do, and is able to do, whether or not Congress can ever get its act together.”
Gillibrand, who was not up for re-election this year, will return to a Senate about to change hands to the GOP in January.