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November 6, 2015


Back to the garden

Wednesday, Nov. 11 is Veterans Day. Once also called Armistice Day, in England and Commonwealth countries it’s called Remembrance Day or Poppy Day. The public holiday designated to commemorate the end of World War l on Nov. 11, 1918 now honors all generations of service men and women who sacrificed for their country.

Every year Scarsdale Post 52, now under the command of Thomas Adamo, leads the observance at Boniface Circle and at the Memorial Garden by the Scarsdale Pool. Wednesday services kick off at 10 a.m. to be followed by a barbecue at Crossway Firehouse.

The American Legion’s Memorial Garden in front of the Scarsdale Pool complex on Mamaroneck Road was intended to teach future generations about Scarsdale’s participation in every war going back to the American Revolution, providing a link not only to the past but between our village and the nation.

Usually the only people who regularly go to the Memorial Garden are the men who created it. Twice a year, on Memorial Day and Veterans Day, a dwindling group of veterans gather in a demonstration of remembrance and gratitude.

We were cheered this year, as was Post 52, that the Memorial Garden was used by the Scarsdale Parks, Recreation and Conservation Department for a “Parties in the Park” event back in July. We hope there will be more occasions to make use of the space, both for the beauty of the garden, the history it teaches, and the sense of connection it fosters to a long-established community of honorable, duty-bound citizens.

Two years ago American Legion Post 52 dedicated a new memorial to the veterans of the Korean and Vietnam wars. The Legionnaires have not given up on their mission to maintain a place where the veterans of all wars would be remembered, “a labor of love that will leave a legacy of patriotism” as it was described when the garden opened in May 2002. The bronze plaques on the horseshoe-shaped path around the center lawn offer a refresher course in American history. The cause, high points and resolution of each of the nation’s nine wars, from the American Revolution (“a war for independence”) to the War in Vietnam (“an effort to prevent the spread of communism”), are summarized with admirable brevity, and Scarsdale’s participation described. The monuments also reveal the growth of the village from a farming community of several hundred people to the busy suburb that it is today.

History, to be sure, is not only about war. But every war dramatizes a tension of the time, problems confronting humanity and their painful resolution through courage and sacrifice.

Samuel Crawford, a miller and a Minuteman, was the first Scarsdalian to die in defense of the new nation. He was present when the Declaration of Independence was read on the White Plains Courthouse steps July 11, 1776. Less than a year later, Crawford was killed in a surprise attack by the British, leaving his widow to raise their eight children. 

Another Scarsdalian whose name is inscribed in the garden is Alice Lovejoy, a secretary who secretly took flying lessons, accumulating enough hours to get into flight school as a Women’s Air Force service pilot. She died in a training accident in 1944.

And then there was Tom Dean, a casualty of the war in Vietnam. A 1961 graduate of Scarsdale High School, popular, hard-working, a good athlete, he was the son of Bill Dean, after whom the baseball field at the high school is named.

The final monument commemorates Operation Enduring Freedom and memorializes those who died in terrorist attacks, beginning with the bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983 and ending with the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center, in which 82 Westchester residents died, and the attack on the Pentagon and thwarted hijacking of the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania.

When the garden was dedicated, 9/11 was a fresh wound, inspiring patriotic feelings that have dissipated with time. But our history and values are as relevant as ever and the defense of liberty just as critical as it was then. If 9/11 taught us anything, it’s that we can never isolate ourselves from the world’s problems.

As history has made painfully clear since World War l, the “war to end all wars” was just a poetic bit of speechifying. The United States is again increasing the number of troops in Afghanistan, and we’re always on the frontlines of the war on terror.

Schools are closed on Wednesday. Give your children a civics lesson. Bring them down to Boniface Circle at 10 a.m. on Nov. 11.

Read more local coverage of your hometown in this week’s issue of The Scarsdale Inquirer. Newsstand copies are available at several locations listed above, or subscribe today for convenient home delivery.

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