A Column by Assemblyman Will Barclay
On Nov. 11, our nation will honor Veteran’s Day—a day to remember the debt of gratitude we owe to all who have served our great country.
Time and again, our service men and women have defended our country’s values and put their lives at risk for the greater good.
They have fought to protect our democracy and shown valor and strength in the face of conflict.
They have protected our country’s freedoms so that all citizens can live under the democracy set forth in the U.S. Constitution.
This Veteran’s Day marks a special milestone. It is the centennial of the Armistice, the 100 year anniversary of the agreement that ended hostilities between Allied forces and Germany in World War I.
Though the war began in 1914, for almost three years the U.S. remained neutral. That changed after Germany began sinking American ships and the U.S. declared war on Germany on April 6, 1917.
The entrance of America’s well-supplied forces marked a turning point and helped the Allies to victory.
On Nov. 11, 1918, 18 months after the U.S. entered the war, the Armistice was signed.
World War I claimed the lives of more than 16 million people worldwide. It marked the first time modern weaponry such as poison gas, aerial bombing, machine guns, and long-range artillery were used in a war.
Though estimates vary, the U.S. mobilized more than 4 million military personnel, more than half of which were draftees.
Roughly 116,000 U.S. troops were killed due to combat, influenza or combat-related wounds.
The war and carnage touched every community.
More than 500,000 troops from New York served and nearly 14,000 New York troops were killed.
Locally, historians and community members have been working to ensure that the names of those who were killed in the war are not forgotten.
Residents from Oswego County organized the Oswego County World War I 100th Anniversary Commemorative Project, an effort to honor and memorialize those from Oswego County who died serving in World War I.
The commemoration project will culminate on Nov. 11 in Oswego at 1 p.m. when a monument featuring the names of 132 soldiers who died in the war is unveiled at Oswego Veteran’s Memorial Park (West Linear Park in Oswego).
The public is invited to attend.
The project committee also worked to place an Oswego County commemorative flag at the grave markers of 33 Oswego County World War I service members buried overseas in 11 cemeteries in France, Belgium and England.
Another effort has been to involve churches in the centennial. Armistice took effect on the “11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month” of 1918.
Churches have been asked to ring their bells at 11 a.m. on Nov. 11 in remembrance.
To see pictures of the flags at the grave markers overseas and to learn more about the project, visit https://www.facebook.com/OswegoWWIVets/.
In addition to this county-wide effort, residents, historians and town officials from Scriba recently dedicated a new World War I monument that featured the names of soldiers who were from Scriba.
Local businesses, residents and public officials worked together to see that the monument was created and installed at Veteran’s Park on the corner of 104 East and Creamery Road.
A dedication ceremony was held in October.
In total, 99 men with connections to Scriba who served are listed, including six casualties.
These local efforts help the public to have a deeper understanding of our history and a fuller appreciation for our many veterans.
Thank you to all who have served our great country.
To learn more about the centennial, visit https://dmna.ny.gov/historic/reghist/wwi/HonorList/?l=s.