American Legion memorial wall and statue dedicated in Dansville
The wall also includes a new interactive kiosk, which allows visitors to look up information on each of the fallen
DANSVILLE — Though COVID 19 had prevented a traditional Memorial Day parade and service at Dansville’s Williams Park, a smaller service was conducted in front of Daniel Goho American Legion Post 87, which coincided with the unveiling of a newly refurbished memorial wall and soldier statue inside the Legion Post entryway.
The ceremony began with Shannon Griese, Sons of the American Legion past commander, as master of ceremonies; then Legion chaplain Mark Dunning who read the invocation. Justin Maine from Boy Scout Troop 38 led the Pledge of Allegiance followed by Dansville High School Band playing The Star Spangled Banner. The Gettysburg Address was read by Tristan Curtis of Boy Scout Troop 38; Flanders Field was read by Brianna Curtis of Scout Troop 135; and the reply to Flanders Field was read by Cub Scouts Tristan and Aiden Smith.
Dansville VFW Commander David Neu, who is also a member of the American Legion, commented on the new display.
“On this Memorial Day, especially, it is really a great honor to have such a thing in our post,” he said.
Legion Commander Lynn Reagle took to the podium next.
“I want to thank everybody in this community. This has been a two-year project for us, and without the people here, we couldn’t make this happen,” he said. “There was a lot of research done, a lot of input from the families, and like David said, this touches our heart.”
The ceremony concluded with Keith Griese and David Neu placing a wreath near the statue, commemorating the fallen. The names and dates of death of the 63 Dansville service men and women who departed while on active duty, and whose names and photos are enshrined on the wall, were read by family members. Names of the departed who did not have family members present were read by Auxiliary members Stephanie Gleason and Phylis Applin. The Legion’s oldest member, World War II veteran Dick Bondi, rang a bell after every name. The names of the departed spanned 100 years, from 1917 to 2017. Roy Worth, VFW chaplain, concluded the ceremony with a benediction followed by a military salute by the Legion’s firing squad, and Taps played by David Sick.
Attendees were then invited inside the vestibule to see the newly refurbished wall, which contains newly matted and framed photos of the 63 departed service men and women, hung on a new cherry wood paneling. The 1880 copper GAR soldier statue, which formerly stood guard over the deceased veterans at Greenmount Cemetery, now stands guard over the deceased veterans on the wall. And now, the statue itself is guarded. While at the cemetery, the 140 year-old statue had become worn by the elements and riddled with holes. The Legion had him restored, and has now given him a new home where he can remain protected. The soldier and wall is well-lit, so that passersby can see it clearly at night.
Visitors can also see the new memorial wall during regular Legion hours 3 p.m. to 8 p.m., and need to enter through the side entrance near the parking lot.
All funds for the statue restoration and memorial wall were raised by donations. The names of the donors are listed near the wall, with a separate framed certificate honoring the late Jon Shay, who donated the largest portion of the proceeds.
The wall also includes a new interactive kiosk, which allows visitors to look up information on each of the fallen, including their date of birth and death, enlistment records, registration card, burial information, newspaper clippings, photos and more.
Legion member Tom Depuy, who helped with the wall’s reconstruction and was the first to donate to the project, pointed to many photos on the wall and said that although he may never have known them personally, “I knew of those names, through dad, who spoke of them.” In addition, Depuy’s uncle Jim Depuy was a lieutenant in the U.S. Army Air Corp during World War II, and is among the memorialized on the wall.
David Sick, who not only played TAPS for the service, is also Depuy’s grandson and the youngest member of the Sons of the American Legion, which makes four generations of Depuy’s family to have been part of the Legion.
Though the Memorial Day ceremony was open to the public, the Legion had a Soft Opening for the relatives and donors the previous week.
Lobby renovation was worked on by Tom Barber, flooring was installed by Skip’s Custom Flooring, portraits were matted and framed by Maple City Framers, interactive kiosk was designed by Exhibits & More, Matt Williams provided the finished Cherry and Tom DePuy constructed the wall. The late John Adamski designed the new interior.
The Daniel Goho Post 87 of the American Legion is marking 102 years in Dansville, the first post to be established in Livingston County. It has 269 members, with another 165 Auxiliary members and an additional 136 members in the Sons of the American Legion.