On Memorial Day, we take time to remember men and women who went off to war, and those who gave their lives. Such a sober thought, thinking of families that had a terrible loss. Although we have turned Memorial Day weekend into the kickoff of the summer, it is also still marked with many parades and the hanging of wreaths at memorial sites to honor the fallen. Tradition compels the marking of graves in cemeteries with a USA flag even during “this 2020 pause.”
We have many markers in our society, across United States, so we can remember history every day. Sometimes these markers and monuments are just there and become part of the background.
In my family history research, I came across a newspaper article from 1923. This article came up because family members’ names were in the listing of name in the article. I downloaded the article thinking, “what a nice find.” At another time when I went back to look at the details of the article, I found a surprise. The article for sure had the listing of names, but they were the names that were going to go on a bronze tablet in a high school. I thought how nice that was, to have happened in 1923. I didn’t give it another thought.
But research can be so interesting. On another day I was looking at the article and started to wonder if the high school was still there, and even if it was, if the name might have changed. No one today would know this area in Queens by the name Newton. What a surprise I found! Not only is the high school still standing with the same name, but also it is an active high school. I called the school and asked if the bronze plate was still there. The very nice lady was in an office somewhere in the building but she felt it was still there. She yelled over her shoulder to someone else to make sure and then decided to look herself. When she came back she said, “Oh yes it is still there. We wouldn’t take that down.” I explained how I didn’t live anywhere near Queens and could I visit? Any time the school was open I could go and see it, according to her. I really wanted to call back and ask for a picture because I wasn’t going to be satisfied unless I went a saw it myself.
Plenty of time passed before I was able to stop by on a school day to see the tablet. But I did stop by and get pictures. (If you are interested in reading the history of the over 100 year old high school, click here )
As you can see from the picture above, there are many names on this tablet. According to the article, 27 alumni students gave their lives during World War 1. My husband is related to three men who were brothers here. Two returned from the War and one did not.
When we remember the fallen veteran, their memory can live past their time for generations to come.
This post was contributed by Joan Wagner, Chief Librarian at the School of Health Sciences
Newspaper articles referred to in this post can be found by clicking here.