Community unites to honor veterans

Memorial Park in Rotterdam gets new monument

One thing is clear Rotterdam values its veterans.

After months of volunteer efforts, Rotterdam Supervisor Frank Del Gallo announced the new Veteran's Memorial Park located next to Town Hall on Sunrise Boulevard will be dedicated on Sunday, May 15, at 1 p.m.

Anthony Troiano, past commander of Disabled American Veterans Chapter 88, is leading the celebration, and Congressman Paul Tonko will serve as keynote speaker.

To help complete the project, Del Gallo put his 2011 Town Board salary of $13,000 toward the project (he earmarked his 2010 salary to cover renovations at the senior center) and said Rotterdam resident and retired police officer Jim Bradshaw also donated a significant amount to the project. About $6,000 was collected from 25 business owners to help fund the project, and without volunteers stepping up to get the task done, it might have cost double the $35,000 to $40,000 it took to complete, Del Gallo said.

When I took office the veterans came to me and said they have been waiting 17 years for somebody to build them their own memorial and monument in Memorial Park out here, and I said, 'I will build you one,'" said Del Gallo.

In addition to donating time and money, residents and business also donated supplies and materials. Zwack Decorative Stone donated the stone, and the artist carving the scene of soldiers into the stone was a veteran himself. Kenneth Maguire, of Key West, Florida, spent more than 350 hours carving the stone with a burring tool, said Del Gallo. After Maguire was done carving into the stone, he painted it.

On top of the new monument is a bell Del Gallo picked up in Alaska more than 25 years ago. Del Gallo said the bell used to be part of a steam locomotive.

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