First published May 24, 1984.
It had rained every day for weeks but Memorial Day 1947 brought out the sun even though the wind was chilly and coats and warm clothing were necessary for the many who attended the services in Westfield.
At Barcelona at 11 a.m. a wreath was dropped from a place onto the waters of the harbor in memory of Westfield sons who gave their lives at sea "for their nation's liberty."
Were you there at the dedication of the “Field of Honor” at Westfield Cemetery on Memorial Day 1947?
At noon, taps sounded in McClurg Park honoring service men whose memory had been prolonged by the planting of elm trees dedicated to them, with a name plate marking each tree. The flag in the park was raised from half-mast to full-mast.
Promptly at 2:30 p.m. the parade (and it was a big one) started toward the cemetery headed by the police car, the marchers keeping step to the music of the Westfield Academy and Central School band. In the line-up were the American Legion, the Spanish War Veterans, the Legion Auxiliary, the Daughters of the American Revolution, Westfield Firemen, Boy and Girl Scouts, with the God Star Mothers and the Village Fathers riding in cars all clean and polished for the occasion.
At the cemetery that year Donald Walker gave Lincoln's Gettysburg Address.
The main speaker, introduced by Harris Hull, was Elsie McCutcheon. Her subject was "Democracy." She said, "After all the wars which we have fought, the world should be better if destruction and dying could make it so but it is not soNothing short of world government will solve the problems of the atomic age."
The main event of Memorial Day 1947 in Westfield was the presentation and dedication of the "Field of Honor," that part of Westfield Cemetery bordering Academy Street, where the white crosses remind us of the many young men who gave their lives in World War II, and whose bodies can not or will not be returned to this country for burial. The American Legion had erected a flagstaff on the field and had also arranged temporary markers in the form of plain white wooden crosses, one for each veteran.
The American Legion had also placed an American Flag and a geranium on each plot. The Cemetery Association would give the Field of Honor perpetual care. Temporary markers had been placed for these 19 veterans: William P Jackway, Kermit W. Anderson, Ross T. Welch, Robert M. Wallace, Robert L. Todd, Victor A. Turkovich, Richard T. Bennett, Morris L. Thomas, Wells T. Hull, Leslie L. Curtis, Calvin J. Farnham, Richard T. Moore, Howard W. Eggert, Gordon W. Jaynes, Ralph K. Light, Angelo J. Rainieri, Gerald E. Farnham, Charles W. Noble, and Vincent H. Hopson.
Arthur S. Tennant, on behalf of the Westfield Cemetery Association, delivered the dedication address. He said, "In the International Turmoil of today, resulting from the recent War and its after effects, it is the hope of every citizen that our Government may equally well measure up to the expectations of the whole people in the prevention of future wars and the advancement of civilization."
In accepting the "Field of Honor", Ralph G. Keopka, past commander of John W. Rogers Post, American Legion, had this to say, "May this spot be a source of solace and comfort to the families of those whose names are here inscribed. And while their memories are indelibly imprinted in our hearts may this Field of Honor be a tangible memorial to those who faithfully lived and bravely died that our American way of life be preserved."
As Memorial Day 1984 approaches, it seems fitting that we should recall the dedication of the Field of Honor at Westfield Cemetery.