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Group working to update, expand Lewiston veterans memorial
Niagara Gazette - 9/7/2018
Sept. 07--LEWISTON -- William Justyk, commander of the VFW Downriver Post 7487, and member Vince Canosa were proud to present renderings of an upgrade envisioned for the Veterans Memorial at Academy Park.
"It will keep its current footprint, but will be expanded," Canosa added.
The new monument will consist of a 23-foot "Circle of Honor" and the present eternal flame will be encased in granite with its smoke exhaled out the top of the monument.
"We want this to be the most distinctive, small town veterans' memorial in the United States," said Lee Simonson, a former Niagara County legislator and, according to Justyk and Canosa, a major force in moving the upgrade forward.
"In this country, right now, we need more non-veterans honoring veterans rather than veterans honoring themselves," Simonson said. "If anybody owes a gratitude to their service, it's the people who didn't serve ... these guys were out there putting their lives on the line ... and I was home, sitting in my living room, comfortably, out of harm's way, so, this is the least I can do to honor these guys who have the courage ..."
One aspect of the memorial that will be changing is that it will be more inclusive. Formerly, to be named on the memorial, one had to have been born in, lived in, or worked in the Village of Lewiston to have their name carved into granite. Now the VFW Downriver Post 7487 has changed its policy to encompass Town of Lewiston as well.
"We really didn't think that was fair," Canosa said. "I mean, here's a person who's contributed to the community but because he wasn't born here? So, we changed the bylaws to encompass all those people."
The format of how the names are written will also be changed.
"The only way you can find a person's name is to literally do this," Canosa dragged his finger across each name, one after another without space. "This way, we're going to have them in rows like they do in Niagara Falls."
Canosa is also reaching out to people around the country who have lived at some point in Lewiston. He also said he's received several $1,000 donations, notably from the Lewiston Kiwanis, as well from the local Tops Supermarkets owner, and the owner of Frey Electric.
"Personally, I think that every kid in this country should at least serve two years in some kind of thing. I don't care if you volunteered two years for Habitats for Humanity, or you did two years in some place or you went into the Peace Corps," Canosa said. "You should give your country two years of service time just to understand what it's like."
"Collasano, Reiter, Henderson, Lombardi, Cadille ..." Justyk rolled the familiar names as he came upon them on the Veterans' Memorial. "There's a few that passed overseas and we have more to put on, current ones. We're all getting old (laughs)."
The VFW is raising its funds through a GoFundMe website at gofundme.com/circleofhonor.
--The VFW Downriver Post 7487 is raising funds to upgrade the Academy Park Veterans' Memorial Monument through GoFundMe at gofundme.com/circleofhonor.
(c)2018 the Niagara Gazette (Niagara Falls, N.Y.)
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