Ethan Ostwald stands at the Kiwanis War Memorial. Jim Franco/Spotlight News
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COLONIE — The Latham Kiwanis War Memorial Honor Roll is getting a makeover.
Ethan Ostwald, the 16-year-old Shaker High School junior who took on part of the makeover as his Eagle Scout project, needs your help.
Right now, the memorial has the names of those who served in World War I, World War II, Vietnam and Korea and even a spot for two families who fought in the Revolutionary War. But, Ostwald said, those lists appear incomplete and there are not any names from the more recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The reason, he said, is because nobody has updated the memorial since the 1970s.
“We were out here last year raking leaves and the Honor Roll was mentioned at the last Memorial Day service and I thought it would be a good way to give back to the community and those who served this country,” he said.
There are five glass-encased panels on the memorial, each designating a war with the names of those who lived in Latham when they were inducted into the military.
The first order of business is to gather the names already there, and then conduct an outreach campaign – through newspapers, the historical society and social media – to find other names and the names of those from the more recent wars.
Then, he will find a local shop willing to donate all or a portion of the name plates and engraving costs and re-mount the plaques in their designated spots on the new boards which will then be re-encased in glass.
The memorial was built in 1943, said Kiwanis President Mary Beth Vail, by what was the Latham Community Association. The women, she said, went door-to-door to collect names of men who served in the one of the World Wars and it was formally dedicated in 1944.
In the 1976, it was moved from its original location closer to the Latham Circle down Troy Schenectady Road to what is now Kiwanis Park. Names were added from the Korean War and Vietnam but none since.
The first memorial service was held in 1977.
“I think it is great,” she said of the project. “I have been hoping to get a scout to redesign how we display the names and get a more accurate list and post the lists. We have one scout doing that and another is painting and repairing things around the memorial. When they are done, it should look great and it is a worthwhile project not just for the Kiwanis but for those who served.”
Another scout in Ostwald’s troop, Troop 1701 out of Loudonville, is working through the Eagle Scout project approval process to renovate the structural aspects of the wooden, white memorial. Scout Billy Pipe is currently working for an approved Eagle Scout project – scout master, committee chair, the beneficiaries and the national counsel.
“This is the pinnacle of my scouting career,” Ostwald said. “I’ve been working towards this goal and I’ve been preparing for a while and now that the weather is nicer I can’t wait to get going,” he said.
He will accept names of anyone who served in the military who was – or is – living in Latham at the time of their induction through the end of June and hopes to have his part of the project done by the end of July.
While it is looking for anyone who served in any war, he would like to see those who served in the Gulf War in ’91 and ’92 and/or Afghanistan and Iraq from 2001 to the present.
If you did serve, or know of someone who did serve, feel free to contact Ostwald at firstname.lastname@example.org