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Memorial Day ceremonies take on a virtual theme

A concept illustration of the War on Terror memorial
A concept illustration of the War on Terror memorial

Monroe County officials and representatives of the veterans community will break ground Monday on the War on Terror Memorial at Highland Park.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic this will be a virtual ceremony, and it will be broadcast live starting at 11am on local TV stations and also streamed on the Facebook page of Monroe County Executive Adam Bello.

The War on Terror Memorial will recognize the memory of service members from Monroe and surrounding counties who list their lives in U.S. military conflicts from 1990 through the present day. Construction is expected to begin next spring.

State Senator Joe Robach helped push for a $250,000 state grant to build the memorial which will be located southeast of the Vietnam Veterans memorial at Highland Park, and he said, “This memorial will be a place for our community to gather to reflect on the brave service of those who defended freedom in the War on Terror.”

Bello said that, “Monroe County is not only paying tribute to those who fought against terrorism, but to every local soldier who did not make it back home.”

The new memorial will feature 10 concrete columns that display military emblems. Five emblems represent the branches of the military, one emblem represents the Prisoners of War and service members Missing in Action, and four emblems commemorate the Gulf War, United Shield in Somalia, Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and Iraqi Freedom. The centerpiece of the memorial will be a life-sized battlefield cross statue depicting the boots, gun and helmet of a fallen soldier on a raised pedestal.

In addition, the Vietnam Veterans of America and the Warriors of Freedom Memorial Committee contributed to the design, construction and maintenance costs of the memorial.

Dan and Rita Hasenauer of Hilton will be among the participants in Monday’s ceremony. The Gold Star parents lost their 21-year-old son Army Pfc. Jason Hasenhauer in 2005, while he was serving in Afghanistan. They also serve on the War on Terror Memorial Committee.

“This memorial will be a beautiful setting for our family and friends to remember our son Jason and those that served with him,” the Hasenauers said.

The Monroe County Parks Department will perform routine upkeep and maintenance of the Memorial. The Memorial Committee continues to raise funds for an endowment that will pay for any significant future repairs. 

Other local ceremonies also are usual virtual activities to help remember those who died fighting for their country.

The Town of Greece and American Legion Post 468 usually partner on Memorial Day, but on Monday, due to the prohibition of large crowd gatherings, Supervisor Bill Reilich and Commander George Dadson, Jr. worked together to host a virtual ceremony. The ceremony was recorded and uploaded to YouTube.

On Monday at 12:30 pm, Perinton Memorial VFW Post 8495 in Fairport will be holding a Memorial Day Ceremony.  Organizers say that while they cannot have the usual parade through Fairport and ceremony at Potter Park, there will be a socially responsible ceremony that will take place at Post 8495 on "Freedom Hill," a monument and memorial area. 

That area will be closed to the public and later the ceremony will be uploaded to YouTube. You can find more information at the post's Facebook page.

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.