GOWANDA - The village of Gowanda, with help from American Legion Post 409 and the VFW Post 5007, honored veterans on Veterans Day with the unveiling of a monument.
Commander George Stark of American Legion Post 409 welcomed those in attendance to the monument unveiling on a "beautiful day" to honor those who have served.
"Veterans Day pays tribute to all American soldiers living and deceased," he said.
Collins Correctional Facility Chaplain Joel Terragnoli led the ceremony with an opening prayer. The monument, which takes the place of the Honor Roll, stands in front of the Gowanda Free Library on West Main Street. The Honor Roll was first placed in 1945 after a campaign from resident Harry Allen. Allen resided in the house next to the library and lost his son, Robert, in World War II. In addition to Robert, the village lost a significant number of male residents due to the war. Allen wanted a permanent marker to honor all those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.
"World War II emptied out the village of Gowanda of eligible males," Stark said.
Stark gave history of the monument by reading excerpts of a newspaper article written by Tom Robinson that appeared in the Gowanda News. The Honor Roll was seen "for many years by residents walking by on West Main Street," Stark said. Over the years, the Honor Roll has been abused by weather elements and was further damaged by the flood in 2009. Stark said the American Legion along with the VFW Post 5007, a committee was formed to decide whether to repair or replace the former monument.
"How do you replace something that should be a dignitary to the village," Stark asked.
The monument, which is hand-etched, was done by Southern Tier Monument and Schindler Funeral Home. The monument says, "In honor of those veterans who have sacrifices, served and are serving. All gave some, some gave all." The symbols of the five military branches are located at the base of the monument.
"I urge all residents as they pass by to recognize the commitments and sacrifices all our veterans have made," McKeever said.
The Gowanda High School Marching Band under the direction of Jake Swanson performed three musical selections, including the National Anthem. The National Anthem was sung by the Brockport High School Environmental Club. Bill and Tom Cain played Taps on the bugle and a 21-gun salute closed out the ceremony. The Honor Roll can now be viewed at the Gowanda Historical Museum.