Breaking Ground

Mayville Cemetery Honors Hometown Heroes

The Chautauqua County Hometown Heroes Veteran Memorial broke ground Wednesday on its journey to honoring local veterans. P-J photo by Jordan W. Patterson

MAYVILLE – Hometown heroes will soon be honored at the Mayville Cemetery after ground was broke yesterday on a new memorial.

“We have come a long way and with the ground breaking comes the hope of securing the additional funds needed to complete this project,” said Thomas Jordan, Chautauqua County Hometown Heroes Veteran Memorial treasurer. “This project will need continued funding for as long as there are veterans.”

Surrounded by veterans, former and current public servicemen and members of the Chautauqua County Hometown Heroes Veteran Memorial committee, shovels tossed up dirt and grass where a new gazebo will be constructed to honor local veterans from the region.

Earlier this year, a group of residents from the village of Mayville and town of Chautauqua formed The Chautauqua County Hometown Heroes Veterans Memorial, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to raise funds to construct and maintain the veterans’ memorial in the Mayville Cemetery.

In addition to the impending gazebo structure, the memorial will incorporate walls of commemorative bricks to honor all county service men and women. Eleven bricks have been purchased to honor the Medal of Honor recipients from the county.

County Executive George Borrello addressing those gathered at Wednesday’s ceremony. P-J photo by Jordan W. Patterson

The memorial’s fund, money raised from local donors and contributors, currently has $26,000 in its bank account in order to support the project going forward.

Members of the committee were honored at the ground breaking ceremony including James Kurtz, President Jim Thomas, Vice President Clara Dunbar, Thomas Jordan, Secretary Sandralee Wagner, John Buxton, Janet Derbish, Janie Raynor, Rick Spyer, Kathy Jordan, Sara Bemis, James Bradford and William Laubscher.

Other members of the community attended the ceremony, with some giving public addresses about the creation of such a memorial and its significance.

Those in attendance who were honored that are not committee members included George Borrello, county executive; Joseph Gerace Sr., former county executive from 1975 to 1983; Jack Glenzer, former county executive from 1983 to 1989; Mark O’Dell, county legislator; Martin Proctor, county legislator; Donald Emhardt, Chautauqua town supervisor; Jim Warner, Mayville village trustee; Tory Irgang, Chautauqua Region Community Foundation executive director; Susan Rowley, local Blue Star Mothers president; and Scott Dearing, former Chautauqua County American Legion commander.

“We all hear the phrase that ‘freedom is not free’ and that is certainly very true, but beyond that, it’s a foundation of our republic,” Borrello said. “The fact that we live in the greatest, freest nation on Earth that has ever existed solely because of those that are willing to shed their blood and give their lives in defense of freedom and democracy and our republic. This is an amazing labor of love.”

Many of the guest speakers praised the efforts of Kurtz, who is credited as the founder of the Hometown Heroes memorial.

“Thank you Mr. Kurtz for all that you do. You’re an amazing person,” Borrello said.

A special effort is being made to honor those who were missing or killed in action. Bricks will continue to be sold as long as “we have veterans to honor,” Jordan said.

A grant from the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation’s Fund for the Region helped to support the ongoing project.

Those at the ceremony, less than a hundred yards away from graves decorated with American flags signifying military service, were optimistic many more veterans would be honored appropriately in the near future.