The Red Cross tradition

By Mary McTamaney

March is Red Cross Month and has been by presidential proclamation since 1943. President Franklin Roosevelt first dedicated March to “the splendid aims and activities of the Red Cross” during the height of World War II to bring more support to the organization’s war effort. It was fitting for us that a Hudson Valley president focused permanent national attention on this emergency relief organization since our valley was so active a generation before (when F.D.R. was a young man here) in Red Cross activities for World War I. Continue reading

Where was this Newburgh parade?

By Mary McTamaney

This past weekend, Newburgh’s streets were active with people enjoying the delights of the start of “summer.” From Downing Park to the River Art Walk, we got out into the sunshine to celebrate our cultural treasures of art, architecture and landscape. The annual Memorial Day Parade marched from the west end to the east along Broadway to Washington’s Headquarters where it disbanded with a solemn ceremony for remembrance of our war dead at the same location where America’s first army also disbanded and where peace for our new nation was declared. Our hometown’s location as “Birthplace of the Republic” is one reason local citizens have always supported patriotic events. Continue reading

Newburgh unity In our grandparents’ days

By Mary McTamaney

As Thanksgiving weekend came to a close, we had a visit from neighbors who had just returned from a family trip to Texas. We handed over their mail that we had collected and they gave us a wonderful gift: a new photo of their son in his U. S. Airman’s uniform, taken as he completed basic instruction at Lackland Air Force Base. Our neighbors had gone to Texas to watch their son graduate and move on to advanced training (after he enjoyed a Thanksgiving Day with them and the rest of his family). It seemed strange to look at the tall young man in the crisp uniform and remember the little toddler who used to come down the block to dig in the garden with us. Kevin Battipaglia will now join the ranks of citizen soldiers who protect us from harm and contribute to the recovery and safety of those caught in disasters both natural and man-made. Kevin will come home after advanced training to be part of the Air National Guard at Stewart. Whether they are taking supplies to tsunami victims across the globe or ferrying materials to other military bases, the Guard at Newburgh maintains a large fleet of aircraft. Many of their members have been deployed for one or more tours of duty so there is no guarantee of a part-time mission when one joins. Continue reading

A century of soldiers at war – and those who marched for them

By Mary McTamaney

November is the month when hostilities ended in the “war to end all wars,” World War I. That bloody conflict ended in 1918 with an agreement to stop the fighting on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of November and the date was henceforth commemorated as Armistice Day. Today we call it Veterans Day and, tragically, we remember many millions more who went to war after 1918. “The Great War” of 1916-18 didn’t turn men’s hearts and minds away from battle as a way to settle world affairs as it was hoped it would. Ironically, the National Guard that was our main line of civil defense before World War I has become an essential and mobile defense force again as more and more of the violence that threatens America is erupting within our borders, as it did this week in Texas. Continue reading

Historical Society hosts two part lecture on the Great War

Memorial Day remembrances this year take on deeper meaning as we mark a century since the end of “the war to end all wars.” World War I pulled most of the globe into fearful mobilization as men and women departed to foreign battlefields or devoted all their free time to support services to keep their family and friends as safe as possible. Today, it is hard to imagine the many ways a full-blown world war consumed community energy and fueled patriotic passion.

The Historical Society of Newburgh Bay and the Highlands shares the story of Newburgh in the World War in two consecutive programs. Continue reading