September 23, 2014

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Crowd of more than 100 honors veterans at ceremony

BRUNSWICK — This Veterans Day, local veterans had a fitting place to honor both those who have served and those still serving at a new memorial in Westview Cemetery.

A new gazebo and memorial was unveiled to a crowd of more than 100 people at a Sunday morning ceremony.

Veterans salute the flag during a Veterans Day ceremony dedicating a new gazebo at Brunswick’s Westview Cemetery on Sunday morning. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY LOREN GENSON)

The new gazebo and memorial was made possible through the work of two veterans groups joined together with the goal of a larger veterans’ memorial in the cemetery.

“We had just a plaque on the ground and some bushes,” said Joe Tako, commander of the American Legion Post 234 of the previous memorial. “This — this is forever, we will hold our ceremonies here forever.”

Tako teamed up with Commander Norm Cerny, of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9520 in Brunswick, to sell paving stones and raise money to make the memorial a reality. The joint effort paid off.

“People said you’ll be lucky to sell 50 pavers, but we sold 277,” Tako said. “That’s how much the people in this community wanted it.”

The two veterans groups also received donations from Rolling Thunder, Brunswick Rotary Club, the Knights of Columbus and 40 & 8 Voiture of Medina, another local veteran organization.

In addition to the gazebo and memorial honoring all veterans, the site includes the flags of each branch of the U.S. military and a tall flagpole with the American flag.

The memorial also has a permanent kiosk with a listing of all veterans who are buried in the cemetery and where their plots are located.

There are six Revolutionary War veterans, 12 veterans of the War of 1812, 31 Civil War veterans and seven veterans of World War I. There also are much longer lists for veterans who have served in more recent conflicts.

“We wanted to make it easier to find their graves,” Tako said.

He also thought most people would be surprised to know there were that many Revolutionary and Civil war-era soldiers buried in Brunswick.

During the ceremony, Frank Kronen of 40 & 8 Voiture shared the history of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery outside Washington, D.C.

The 40 & 8 Voiture group has its roots in World War I and the observation of Veterans Day, which honors all veterans, was also instituted following World War I.

The 40 & 8 got their name from boxcars that American troops were transported in during World War I. The boxcars were labeled with a triangle and the numbers 40 and 8, meaning it was big enough to hold 40 men or eight horses.

Kronen spoke about the importance of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier as an important monument to all soldiers whose remains were never identified or found.

The tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery was established in 1921 to honor those whose remains were never identified. The tomb contains the remains of a soldier from World War 1 who is “known but to God,” as the tomb marker reads.

Following Kronen’s remarks, Becky Blackmore, president of Rolling Thunder Chapter 8, thanked veterans for their service and courage.

“I’m sure that when you signed up and shipped out, you knew you would be called upon for duties that would be hard,” Blackmore said.

She said the entire month of November should be remembered as a time to be thankful for the service of veterans.

“Veterans put the ‘giving’ in Thanksgiving,” she said.

Tako said he looks forward to celebrating future ceremonies at the cemetery’s new monument and said the annual Memorial Day parade now has the appropriate place to conclude with a memorial service.

“The parade starts at the High School, and it comes here, and we’ll end it here at the monument,” Tako said.

Contact Loren Genson at (330) 721-4063 or lgenson@medina-gazette.com.