WWI Memorial forgotten no longer
by Ed Wendell
May 12, 2015 | 4178 views | 0 0 comments | 58 58 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Memorial Day weekend is almost here, and for the first time in over 70 years the Memorial Trees in Forest Park will be adorned with patriotic bows in memory of the young men from Woodhaven who gave their lives for this country in World War 1.

They will be reintroduced to the community at a reception at Oak Ridge on Thursday, May 21, from 5 to 8 p.m.. Everyone is welcome at this free event, where there will be a slideshow and light refreshments. Parking is available in the golf course parking lot.

This is a joint effort between American Legion Post 118 and the Woodhaven Cultural & Historical Society, with special thanks to the Parks Department and the staff at Forest Park in particular.

At this reception you’ll learn a bit about the young men from Woodhaven whose lives were lost, and you’ll learn a little bit about the community that mourned and honored them.

We’ll introduce you to the young man from 96th Street who was, fittingly, an aspiring forester and writer who once was chosen to parade before King George and who sent letters to this very newspaper describing what he was seeing.

"Today is rather quiet, but up to last night the roar of cannon never ceased,” he wrote in one of those dispatches. “None of us will ever forget these days, as it is something worthwhile seeing and being in.”

This young man would write no more, killed in action in the Meuse-Argonne offensive.

We’ll introduce you to the young man who was an entertainer, a singer and a dancer who frequently appeared in local plays or musical reviews. He was a popular member of the Woodhaven Athletic Club, and was killed in action at 26.

Upon his death, the Leader/Observer wrote “He was well liked by all who knew him and the news of his death has cast a shadow over the entire neighborhood.”

We’ll introduce you to the young man from Woodhaven who was known as the King of Eastern Hurdlers and set a world’s record at Madison Square Garden the year before he died of gangrene from wounds received in battle.

Each one of these young men, and dozens more, are represented by a tree in our living, breathing memorial that sits, no longer forgotten, in Forest Park.

While the purpose of the trees may have been temporarily lost, the young men who lost their lives in World War 1 have never been forgotten by the men and women of American Legion Post 118.

For the past century, they have carried on a proud tradition and honored those young men, and all of the other young men who served, through a Garden of Remembrance that is erected each Memorial Day.

When you pass by Post 118 at 91st Street and 89th Avenue (behind PS 60) next week, you will see row after row of white crosses, each representing someone who served who is no longer with us.

At the center of this beautiful tribute sits a large granite monument with the names of the young men killed nearly a century ago. This granite was purchased by contributions raised from yard sales held by the residents of Woodhaven back in 1919, and it sat in Forest Park until 1942 when it was moved to the newly erected American Legion building.

After the reception on the 21st, you can stroll down to the plaza at Forest Parkway and Jamaica Avenue, where there will be a “Small Town” Memorial Day Observance, sponsored by the GWDC starting at 7:30 p.m.

A hundred years ago, the residents of this community came together and decorated this living, breathing memorial so that those who sacrificed their lives would never be forgotten. We hope you’ll join us at Oak Ridge on the 21st to revive this old Woodhaven tradition.

For more information, email woodhavenhistory@gmail.com.

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