My Town Monday: AMVETS Never Forget

AMVETS September 11 memorial

The AMVETS color guard - the guy on the left is my husband

Last night, my family attended a ceremony to honor and remember those who risked or lost their lives during or after the September 11, 2011 attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center. Several area dignitaries were present, and we heard some moving speeches where the speakers not only remembered the fallen, but pointed out how the attacks changed the U.S. (and the world), and how our responses to them and to those who served are part of what makes us human.

This rescue unit was one of those deployed to NYC on September 12, 2001, to assist in search and rescue efforts

Requirements to join AMVETS are more open than those of other veterans’ organizations, such as the VFW or Foreign Legion. Any active-duty member of the U. S. armed forces may join, as well as those who have been honorably discharged. Overseas service or specific medal achievements are not required. Additionally, family members may join through the AMVETS sister organizations, the Sons of AMVETS and the AMVETS Ladies’ Auxiliary. These organizations are open to the children, grandchildren, parents, and siblings of current AMVETS members, or deceased veterans who would have been eligible to join AMVETS. My husband is a member of the Sons of AMVETS based on his late grandpa’s honorable military service in both WWII and Korea.

AMVETS is focused on service, both to veterans and to their posts’ local communities. The national organization has services to help veterans, particularly those with disabilities, navigate the maze of paperwork and documentation often required to receive veterans’ benefits. My husband’s AMVETS post serves a special luncheon at a nursing and rehab facility in the Dayton VA once a month, and also holds events to raise money for Disabled American Veterans and Hair for Kids, a charity that provides wigs for children with hair loss due to cancer treatment or other medical conditions.

Did you do anything special in remembrance of the September 11th attacks? Were there any special events in your hometown, and if so, did you attend any?

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My Town Monday: Dayton’s Mostly-unknown War Memorial

Happy Memorial Day! To those in the U.S., before you head out for cookouts, games, parties or whatever, please take a moment to remember and be thankful for the men and women of our armed forces, especially those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

A lot of people don’t know it, but we have our own war memorial statue in Dayton, Ohio. Well, okay, maybe if one really looks, it’s obvious the man atop the 85-foot column is a soldier, but I’m guessing that the vast majority of the people who pass by have no idea who he was, or why he’s been immortalized in stone.

Soldiers Monument, Dayton Ohio ca. 1902

Soldiers' Monument in Dayton, Ohio, circa 1902

The statue was erected in 1884, as a memorial to the many men from Dayton and Montgomery County who served in the U.S. Civil War. The original plan was to place a Lady Liberty statue atop the 85-foot column, but the veterans’ organization who started the fundraising and legal efforts to have the statue built, wanted a Union private instead, someone who symbolized the rank and file who fought in the war. After a lengthy search, they selected lifelong Dayton resident George Washington Fair, in part because he was tall and good-looking. A modest man, his wife had to talk him into modeling for the sculpture.

The column was built in Dayton, with a base of local limestone, but the statue was commissioned from an Italian sculptor. It arrived in the U.S. On May 27 , 1884, two weeks ahead of schedule, and was shipped by rail and arrived in Dayton on June 1st. The statue was assembled at the corner of Main and Water Street (now Monument Avenue) and was dedicated as part of a big celebration and parade on July 31.

By the end of World War II, the streets had become congested and the city commission decided to relocate the statue to Riverview Park. It was replaced in its original location in 1993.

If you’re from the Dayton area, did you know the story behind the statue? Or if you’re from somewhere else, does your town have a war memorial, and do you know its story?

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Soldiers’ Monument photo – Library of Congress, ca. 1902, via Dayton History Books Online