The stories behind the names on the Honor Roll at City Hall are beginning to unfold on the www.Ryeww2.org website.
The stories behind the names on the Honor Roll at City Hall are beginning to unfold on the www.Ryeww2.org website. Research volunteers have spent the last ten months trying to capture morsels of information; they are now putting these pieces together and creating biographies for each veteran.
The volunteer committee has placed initial research emphasis on those killed in action. Those web pages serve as a template to view biographies, photographs, census links, unit history links, and even videos. “We want to illustrate to the community what has been and can be accomplished for all Rye veterans,” said Dan Kelly, city historian.
With Memorial Day approaching, Kelly urges readers to go to the website and read the stories of George Merganthaler and James “Sonny” Larkin and all of the other 44 men who died. “The history and sacrifice of these men has never been recorded, and after almost seventy years it is time that they are acknowledged for what they did and died for, and not be just a name on a wall,” said archivist Richard Hourahan, who is busy authoring the biographies for the KIA’s.
The website has received many inquiries and bits of information from relatives, friends, and interested individuals who are supportive of the project, and that has been helpful in filling in some of the blanks. “We have received information from family members from as far away as Australia!” said Chris Maloney. “The functionality of the website is working as designed and we continue to collect information through the comments section located on each veteran’s page. We are the last generation to have the honor of knowing these men and women and it is up to us to share our memories.
“The best source of information would be the veterans themselves, but few are still alive. The second best source would is surviving family and friends. Here we are handcuffed by the mobility of people living in an upscale suburb of New York City. For example, my 1959 high school graduating class numbered 135. Today only nine still live in Rye,” added Richard “Woody” Coddington, who lives in Cleveland.
To get the word out about this amazing project, the site has a Facebook ‘LIKE US’ button on the home page. Here is where visitors can share the site and the project with their friends who can in turn share it with theirs and so on. Many former Rye graduates have stepped forward and have started using email and Facebook to spread the word to their classmates.
The search for volunteers continues, and the Rye community is needed to help create biographies using original source material from the 1940 and 1930 census and enlistment records from the National Archives. The links to these sources are already on the website for each individual veteran record. The creation of the biographies would be split into two parts. Part one would be developed using the linked sources mentioned above, which tell where veteran lived, and very basic information about parents and siblings. Part two of the biography would be created from discharge records obtained from the National Archives which would give details on veterans, branch of service, unit they served in, dates of service, rank and any commendations they might have been awarded.
There are over 1,400 stories to be told, and more authors are needed. If you are interested in adopting a veteran and creating Part 1 of a biography, consisting of two to three sentences and each taking five to ten minutes, use the Contact Us page on the website and you will be sent detailed instructions. Have your kids show off their research skills and become part time historians. All organizations, families and individuals will be cited for their efforts unless they choose to remain anonymous. You can select a veteran’s name or have one assigned.
The committee continues to request the loan of archival material for the exhibit opening at the Square House on Sunday, May 26. To loan or donate memorabilia, documents, photos, military artifacts, contact the Rye Historical Society at 967-7588.