Hometown Heroes Tribute Dinner

By on October 8, 2018
Left to right – Ron Belczak, historian, Town of Riga and Village of Churchville, Bob Lonsberry, author, talk show host and master of ceremonies, Gilbert Budd, commander, Harvey C. Noone Legion, Post # 954.

Left to right – Ron Belczak, historian, Town of Riga and Village of Churchville, Bob Lonsberry, author, talk show host and master of ceremonies, Gilbert Budd, commander, Harvey C. Noone Legion, Post # 954.

On September 29, 1918, PVT Harvey C. Noone was killed in action near San Quentin, France during the Battle of the Hindenberg line. On that same day, by virtue of his sacrifice, his mother, Mary E. Noone, became a Gold Star Mother. His death, and the death of the other local men, who died while serving our nation, was a loss to the entire community. Mary E. Noone lived on East Buffalo Street near Black Creek; just a short walk away, was the Johnson House. On Saturday, September 29, 2018, one hundred years after his death, the community gathered at the Johnson House for a Hometown Heroes Tribute Dinner. The dinner was held in honor of Harvey and all those local men who have answered the call to serve their country and who have made the ultimate sacrifice by giving their lives in defense of our nation and the principles of freedom upon which it was founded. Also honored were their mothers, Gold Star Mothers.

The speaker for the evening was Town and Village Historian, Ron Belczak. In his remarks, Ron told about the journey of Harvey C. Noone which began in the small, rural community of Churchville where, at the time of WWI, electricity was just beginning to be installed, to his enlistment in the Army, to his service and death in France and to his burial with full military honors in Creekside Cemetery.

Ron Belczak, Town of Riga and Village of Churchville historian, speaking about the journey of Harvey C. Noone from Churchville to his death in WWI in France and returning to Churchville’s Creekside Cemetery.

Ron Belczak, Town of Riga and Village of Churchville historian, speaking about the journey of Harvey C. Noone from Churchville to his death in WWI in France and returning to Churchville’s Creekside Cemetery.

Serving as the Master of Ceremonies was author, journalist and radio talk show host, Bob Lonsberry. Both a veteran himself and the father of service members, he is a well-known supporter of our troops and a strong advocate of our freedoms. Bob spoke of the spirit, grit, and determination that has been exhibited by individual service members, and our armed services as a whole, wherever they have been called upon to take up arms and defend our nation and our freedoms. He reminded all that the price of freedom is not free. And, he described how, at the death of a service member, the blue star flag, which is hung in the window of someone actively serving our nation, is replaced with a flag that in its center is a Gold Star, signifying the death of a hero and the creation of a Gold Star Mother; a woman who, from that moment forward, is someone to be embraced, honored and cared for by her community.

In honor of the Harvey C. Noone Legion Post’s Centennial Year Commemoration and Tribute to its namesake, Harvey C. Noone, the Town of Riga planted an oak tree on the grounds of the Legion Post. The Post Home is adjacent to the Town Hall, which was built a few years ago on land donated by the Legion to the citizens of Riga to build its new Town Hall. The Village of Churchville honored Harvey by planting an oak tree in his honor along the West Shore Trail. At the Tribute Dinner, County Legislator Steve Brew announced that, in Harvey’s honor, the County will donate historic lilacs, derived from the Barry Ellwanger collection that formed the original collection of lilacs in Highland Park, to be planted along the West Shore Trail.

The Legion announced its “Living Fields of Honor” project. The inspiration arose from a challenge that Ron Belczak made to those planning this Centennial Year Commemoration. His challenge was to “do something” which would serve as a permanent reminder to future generations of our Hometown Heroes. A sole daffodil, in bloom along the West Shore Trail, the day an oak honoring Harvey was planted, answered the challenge. By planting daffodils near each oak, a Living Field of Honor would be created and every spring our Hometown Heroes will be remembered and honored. Daffodils not only live for decades, in a naturalized setting, their display multiplies and grows each year. As Living Fields of Honor, each spring they will emerge with their message of beauty, remembrance, rebirth and hope for our nation. In honor of their attendance, daffodil bulbs will be planted for each Tribute Dinner guest. Donations will be accepted toward the purchase of additional bulbs. Planting will occur when the bulbs, which are shipped from fields in Holland, located not far from the battlefield in France where Harvey C. Noone gave his life defending freedom and serving his country, arrive “home” in Churchville.

Bob Lonsberry, Tribute Dinner master of ceremonies. In the background are photos of Harvey C. Noone and his Gold Star Mother, Mary E. Noone.

Bob Lonsberry, Tribute Dinner master of ceremonies. In the background are photos of Harvey C. Noone and his Gold Star Mother, Mary E. Noone.

Commander Gilbert Budd concluded the evening by presenting Bob Lonsberry with models of two bricks that will be added to the Hometown Heroes section of the Community Memorial Park. One commemorates the Hometown Heroes Tribute Dinner and the other is In Honor of Bob Lonsberry, the Proud American who joined the community in paying tribute to our Hometown Heroes.

Article and Photographs

Submitted by Pamela A. Moore for Harvey C. Noone Legion

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