This year marks the solemn 100th anniversary of the United States entering The Great War, later known as World War 1. Seventy young men from Woodhaven went off to fight in that war and never came home.
Next year will mark the end of that war, along with the 100th anniversary of the founding of the American Legion. And the year 2020 will mark the 100th anniversary of the planting of the Memorial Trees of Forest Park, dedicated in the memory of those local boys who sacrificed their lives.
The men and women of American Legion Post 118 have been an integral part of the fabric of Woodhaven for nearly a century. The walls inside the post are covered with photos of many of the veterans who have been part of our lives here in Woodhaven going all the way back to 1919.
American Legion Post 118 has led the way in remembering and honoring those locals who have served and, in some cases, sacrificed their lives for our great nation.
Case in point: a while back we wrote about Father Lawrence E. Lynch, the local priest who was killed in action at the Battle of Okinawa in May 1945 as a member of New York City's 69th Infantry Regiment, a.k.a. the famous Fighting 69th.
The popular priest was renowned for his kindness and bravery, two traits that led to his ultimate sacrifice. Father Lynch sought to be in the midst of the action and was comforting a dying soldier when a mortar came in and struck them both, killing them instantly.
The residents of Woodhaven and the surrounding communities were heartbroken and it was resolved to dedicate a piece of land in his honor. In 1949, a portion of the intersection at Atlantic Avenue and Rockaway Boulevard was dedicated as Father Lawrence E. Lynch Memorial Triangle.
Today, there is not so much as a sign or a marker to acknowledge his sacrifice. However, American Legion Post 118 partnered up with the Woodhaven Cultural & Historical Society to put in a request to right this wrong.
Councilman Eric Ulrich took this request under his wing and has submitted it to the city, the first step in giving Father Lynch the memorial he deserves. We are hopeful that sometime later this year, we’ll all be able to gather and have a little ceremony to rededicate this intersection.
It is for reasons like this that we, as a community, need to continuously support our veterans and support our local American Legion Post, ensuring that they are always remembered and honored.
With this in mind, we hope you’ll come out and support American Legion Post 118 as they kick off this busy period with their annual St. Patrick’s Day Luncheon on Sunday, March 11, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. This is a fun event with a catered Irish lunch of corned beef and cabbage with potatoes and Irish soda bread and beer, wine and soda.
There will also be lots of dancing and music by DJ Walter, along with a 50/50 and raffle prizes. Not only is this a fun party and a good bargain at $25 per person, but it also serves as a small fundraiser for Post 118.
They have not only served and supported our country, they have served our community. In every sense, they are our community and we hope that residents will come out and support them.
If you’d like to attend, please make checks payable to “ALA Woodhaven Unit 118,” and drop off payment in the mail slot of the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association at 84-20 Jamaica Avenue. Just be sure to put “American Legion” on the envelope.
If you have any questions please call Jennifer Farley at (718) 296-3923 or Janet Chan-Smith at (9170 445-5443. Contact them soon as no tickets will be sold at the door.
Whenever this country has called, the men and women of the American Legion have been there for us. Over the next few months and years there will be plenty of opportunity to reciprocate and show your appreciation and support for them.