Emotional clock ceremony recognizes ‘Those Who Served.’
All of the work leading up to Sept. 18 showed that the twin mottos of “Lest We Forget — Those Who Served” is a message the Granville community has taken to heart.
In a stirring, often emotional ceremony last Saturday, the Veterans Memorial Clock officially returned to its sentry position above Granville’s Main Street with the fanfare deserving of what clock restorer John Freed often referred to as “a living monument.”
Before the refurbished clock was unveiled, the men to whom the monument is dedicated were recognized for their service with the respect and gratitude “the greatest generation” deserved.
Mohawk-Hudson Valley County Veterans of Foreign Wars Commander Gene Ratigliano and immediate Past County Commander Donald Mackey read the names of the World War II veterans in attendance as well as acknowledging those who came to the ceremony but had not been on the list.
“Gentlemen, we salute you,” they said, snapping a salute returned by many of the honored guests.
Director of Washington County Veterans Affairs and retired U.S. Army Col. Sam Hall read the names of the 30 Granville men who made the ultimate sacrifice for Granville and their country as Scott Chapman from the Sons of the American Legion chimed a bell once for each name.
Crowd estimated at 1,500
A crowd estimated at more than 1,500 filled the intersection of Main and North streets to witness the unveiling of the O.B. McClintock clock, which was first dedicated on Sept. 26, 1943, during World War II.
As he spoke about his effort to restore the clock, Freed said the seed of the idea of fixing the clock had been planted more than 10 years ago by two men who did not live to see this day, Jack Jones and Art Seiman.
Pausing, Freed said: “This was their dream. I’m just glad to finish it for them.”
In closing, Freed said he had placed one stainless steel bolt into the clock’s post. The only request to the veterans groups to come out of all of the work he had done, he said, would be that parades stop at the site and place a wreath as a part of future ceremonies.
“It really feels like the finish line and all of these people that came out is way more than I ever pictured. I owe a huge debt of gratitude to the village, Rick Roberts and everybody for putting this together,” said Freed. “The celebration is what I imagined and what I hoped for, but on a scale that I couldn’t imagine; I mean huge. I’m just thrilled so many people turned out because without them it wouldn’t be such a big honor for the vets. You’ve got to have all of the people come to make it special.”
Freed was presented with a framed 1945 Saturday Evening Post cover depicting a man hanging from a scaffold using a stop watch to set a town clock by Joe Capron of Wells, Vt.
Congressman Scott Murphy presented Freed with a large slate plaque from Sheldon Slate recognizing his selfless restoration effort.
Key presented to village
To close the ceremony Freed presented the original key to the clock works inside the bank to Granville Mayor Jay Niles. Freed said the key, used to open the wood-cased “master” clock inside the bank, had been found at the Veterans of Foreign Wars post some time after his restoration efforts started.
“It’s a big sigh of relief. The switch is on; it’s lit. I can sleep now. There was a lot of nervousness before that; now the pressure’s off that you’re going to turn the switch on and it’s going to work. I’m kind of glad we’ve made it here. We’ve done our duty and we’ve honored the vets properly,” Freed said.
“He did a wonderful job,” proud father and WWII veteran Dick Freed said.
The evening’s keynote speakers, U.S. Army Col. Edward “Ned” Fish and U.S. Air Force Col. Jeffrey MacEachron, each returned to Granville from full-time military duty just for the chance to honor the WWII veterans and celebrate the restored Veterans Memorial Clock.
Fish said both speakers kept in touch, looking forward to the day.
“Colonel MacEachron and I talked and we agreed that we would have done anything here and to be here on this day because we owe the town of Granville so much and we love the town of Granville and we were honored to speak and be a part of this day. We would have done anything — pick up, clean up, anything, whatever it was to take part in this great day,” Fish said.
Fish nearly missed the day’s events and speaking as duty called and he was finishing up a conference.
“I spoke to my boss, the major general of the Intelligence Security Command, and explained to her what this meant to me and what this meant to Granville and she said by all means go and have a great time,” Fish said.
“Granville does it right; Granville gets it,” MacEachron told the assembled crowd. MacEachron said a nation that does not celebrate its heroes “is soon to perish from this earth,” indicating the men seated in the tent in front of his. “In Granville we don’t forget our heroes.”
As stirring as MacEachron’s speech was, he also drew a laugh from the crowd as a perfectly timed flock of geese flew a course along North Street.
“There’s your other flyover – go Air Force,” he quipped.
With temperatures during the day reaching the middle 70s and sunny skies with just a few clouds for punctuation, the day remained comfortable for all even as the ceremony stretched beyond the waning daylight hours.
“I think the evening could not have been more perfect,” Fish said later. “I think this was a great night and the children of Granville, the people of Granville, will remember for decades because of the perfection that took place here tonight.”
Soon-to-be 80-year-old Korean War veteran Ron Duel was just one of the veterans filling the crowd on Main Street Saturday.
Duel said he was thrilled to be at the ceremony and accompanying parade. He has a number of connections to the clock, including playing at the original 1943 dedication ceremony in the Granville High School Band as a cymbal player and being a classmate of motto contest winner Monica (Minogue) Martin and Marilyn (Rote-Rosen) Cohen.
“I’m glad to see this happening while I’m still here,” Duel quipped.
Village clerk and clock committee chairman Rick Roberts, who picked up the nickname “General” during the preceding weeks, said was pleased with how the ceremony and parade turned out. Roberts said he got a bit nervous when things began to come together so smoothly.
Improvising a bit, he said the order of the program was shifted just a bit to allow the skies to darken enough to allow everyone to see the slideshow presentation put together by Granville High School’s technology coordinator Dan Nelson and students.
Slideshow available to public
Nelson said the plan is to make the slideshow available to the public at some point in the future. Considering more than 700 men from the area served in World War II, Nelson said, some time will be set aside to gather more pictures of local servicemen before the final product is made available.
“It was an incredible night. It made me proud to be a resident of Granville, New York,” Suzanne MacEachron, sister-in-law of Col. Jeff MacEachron, said after the ceremony.
A wonderful night
“It couldn’t have been a more wonderful night,” Niles said after the ceremony concluded.
As the mayor spoke a small army of volunteers and workers quickly dismantled everything erected during the day to support the ceremony, including the large shade/rain tent for the guests of honor.
“The pride showed. The respect showed. The love showed and we paid tribute to the World War II vets and all the members of the armed services; they’re extraordinary people and they’ve done extraordinary things and we’ll be forever grateful,” Niles said.
“I also want to thank the people of the committee. We worked so hard for this and it showed that when it means a lot to us we can do what we need to do and this was the right thing to do.”
Half of the trumpet soloist team, Devon Buxton, said he was excited to participate in the day’s events. “It was a great honor,” he said. Buxton, along with Jordan Gates, played taps during the ceremony.
“I can remember being a little kid and wondering when they were going to fix the tower and I was in the ceremony,” Buxton said. It felt great; it was awesome.”