This past spring, our Department of Local History received two very timely World War I donations — a framed poster advertising war bonds and a program for a community dinner in honor of “Returned Soldiers and Sailors, April 2, 1919.” These two items served to remind us of the many men from East Rochester who served in World War I.
In the years following World War I, many in East Rochester felt more needed to be done to honor the soldiers. The Ladies’ Auxiliary took up the cause — the first auxiliary of the American Legion in Monroe County to sponsor such an undertaking. A meeting with representatives of
all the village organizations and the village board was held to choose specifications for a monument. A granite tablet 8 feet high, with a plaque listing the 197 names of those who had served in the war, was selected. To finance the $1,500 needed for the memorial, businesses,
organizations and individuals donated money and many fundraising events were held. It was decided that the monument would be erected near the large flagpole at the southwest corner of Edmund Lyon Park — the highest elevation in our community.
Another part of the memorial was a German cannon. A 1920 act of Congress provided for the distribution of captured enemy artillery as war memorials for American cities and towns. Congress decided to apportion captured German war material through congressmen to their
districts in proportion to the number of men furnished in the war. And so, a cannon was awarded to our village.
On Memorial Day 1930, the World War I memorial was finally dedicated. This was a major event in our village. The celebration began with a parade of civic and fraternal organizations.
The ceremony on the hill included music, an invocation, roll call, decorating of crosses, speeches, three volleys by the Post firing squad and taps, as well as the singing of our national anthem and a benediction by Father Gefell. After the dedication exercises a dinner was held at the Parkside Methodist Church.
Last year on Veterans Day, a new plaque was installed to honor the eight men who had died in battle — Jules Verne Fish being the first, dying April 6, 1918. It is in his honor that our veterans post is named. The other seven names on the plaque are: Keith Edward Brown, John Clancy, Luigi Musolino, Filippo Cimino, Romolo Epicoco, Ray C. Hopkins and Timothy O’Brien.
To honor our village’s participation in World War I, our History Department will have items in the display case opposite our town/village office on the second floor of the Eyer Building.