LAKEWOOD - Officials from the Lakewood American Legion Post 1286 and the Lakewood History Museum are working to re-establish a memorial for village World War II veterans.
The two village groups are raising money for a replica of a sign that included the names of about 300 village residents who served their country during World War II. Anthony Barone, Lakewood historian, and J. David Lange, Lakewood American Legion second vice commander, are asking village residents to donate money toward the project. Barone said they will need around $7,000 for the project, which will include the sign, trees, shrubbery and landscaping work. So far, Barone said the group has raised about half the money needed to complete the project.
"It is a really big project, and it is coming along. We really haven't done to much publicity, but it has been long overdue to recreate it," he said. "We have a lot of hope. We definitely think this is going to go. This is definitely one of the biggest projects we've tackled. We are really excited about this."
Barone said the sign used to be at the end of Chautauqua Avenue, on top of the hill at Richard O. Hartley Park. He said Pike Ward painted in the names of all the village residents who served on to the sign. Barone said Ward was known for painting background sets for a theater that used to be located where Briggiotta's Farmland Produce, 414 Fairmount Ave., is today.
"I used to hangout at the beach everyday, and I would see Pike painting in the names. I was 12 years old," he said. "Pike was a very, very astute man on the history of Lakewood."
Barone said nobody knows what happened to the original sign.
"That is a mystery. Why did it come down? Who knows," he said. "When I went to college, it was there. When I came back, it was gone. We've tried to find it, but we couldn't."
Barone said when he became the village's historian, he was given pictures of the sign. He said you can clearly read each person's name on the sign from the photos. He said since sending a bulk mailing to all village residents asking for donations, they have received new names of village residents who served during World War II.
"Now we have people saying their Uncle Joe or Uncle Sam were in the war and not on the sign. If they can prove it, they will be added," he said.
Barone said once the money is raised for the sign, they are hoping to be able to place it near the library around the intersection of Hawthorne Avenue and Alta Way.
"We are hoping the library near the Packard memorial, but if they say 'no' we have alternatives," Barone said. "In the future, between the rec center, library, village hall and the museum, we want to create a culture center there."
Barone said those wanting to donate can send checks to the American Legion Post 1286 World War II Honor Roll, 174 Chautauqua Ave., Lakewood, NY 14750-1154. Barone said there will be a special plaque honoring all people who donate toward the project that will be placed in the Lakewood American Legion and in the Lakewood History Museum.