New memorial dedicated in Hoosick Falls, N.Y.

HOOSICK FALLS, N.Y. — Over 100 who lost their lives during military service were honored Saturday with the dedication of Liberty Memorial Park, located within Maple Grove Cemetery.

William Kirby and Edward J. Rogers were honored with a flag raising ceremony, led by Patriot Guard Riders.

Since 2012, Voice of a Vet has teamed up with the Hoosick Historical Society, Maple Grove Cemetery, American Battle Monuments Commission, and Patriot Guard Riders to locate and recognize fallen soldiers. This year, the historical society received a grant from the Fairfield County Community Foundation-Donor Advised Fund in memory of Korean War Veteran Herb Oscar Anderson.

Anderson was a well-known morning radio D.J. who worked at New York's top 40 station WABC-AM during the 1960s. He passed away in January. Anderson's son John James and daughter Karla Anderson were present during Saturday's ceremonies. Anderson will be honored with a granite bench in Liberty Memorial Park.

The group has been involved in a number of efforts to honor Hoosick Falls servicemen. One involved raising a ceremonial tribute flag, "Liberty," at cemeteries where some of the Hoosick natives were buried - whether it be stateside or overseas. The second also known as "Adopt a Serviceman" was introduced in 2016. The program allowed loved ones and other community members and groups to adopt one of the servicemen by purchasing a memorial cross. Each cross lists a name, a place where the man died, and the war that they served in. Crosses that have not yet been adopted bare a flag with the same information listed on the crosses. The crosses stand at 38-iches- tall and costs $200 to purchase.

The construction of Liberty Memorial Park is the third effort. The group began work on the memorial area in May.

Flags representing different branches of the military were hung during the dedication ceremony. The flags were presented by a veteran and handed over to a local girl scout, to be brought over to members of the Patriot Guard Riders who were stationed by each flag pole. Flags depicting the air force, navy, marines, and POW/MIA flew overhead of the memorial site. As each flag was raised, the Hoosick Falls Community Band played.

A bell was also rung as each serviceman's name was read, celebrating their lives and their commitment to the country.

Jean Wierzbicki was one of many who has purchased a cross in memory of a loved one. The cross she purchased was in honor of her father Walter C. Sluzas who was from Hoosick Falls.

His only living sister, Helen Restino, still lives in the village. Sluzas served in the army during World War II and was a captain. Wizerbicki said that her father's wish was to be buried at the Punch Bowl Cemetery [The National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific] in Honolulu, Hawaii.

"[The cross] was well worth the money," Wizerbicki said. "It was the best thing I've ever spent money on."

Living veterans attended the day's ceremonies to honor their fallen brethren. For navy veteran Max Koch, who served during the 1950s, said seeing the day's commemorations, "felt great."

Koch and his wife, who also was in the navy, travel from Johnsonville, N.Y. to Hoosick Falls to visit with other local veterans.

"It was a wonderful day," Koch said.

Gail Smith, of Voice of a Vet, said that 32 crosses remain un-adopted. For anyone who is interested in claiming a cross, the group even offers a $25 partial adoption.

The group does not have a set deadline for when crosses need to be claimed, Smith said, they would just like to see each cross end up being adopted.

"We felt called to this," Smith said, in reference to what Voice of a Vet has been working on. The group aims to make sure that all of the local area vets are not forgotten and so that the community can remember that each and every one of the 102 vets were real people.


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