Veterans Walk of Honor tells the stories of those who served.
On Memorial Day last year, the Vine Valley Community House in Middlesex dedicated its Veterans Walk of Honor. The flagpole, set in a bed of flowers with a brick path leading to and around it, is a tribute to the local veterans who served our country. Hap Metivier, a World War II veteran and Bronze Star recipient, spoke at the ceremony. At the end, the Canandaigua VFW Post #7414 Color Guard raised the flag.
The Walk of Honor committee consisted of Jim Boyce, Sue Ford, Win Harper, Hap Metivier, Dan Robeson and Don Sheive. The site was designed by Donna Boyce; Randy Cooley of Finger Lakes Hardscapes did the construction.
Virginia Mathony, whose family owned The Willow Grove Hotel in Vine Valley from 1918 until 1937, left a substantial donation in her will to build the memorial. She was also a World War II veteran, serving as Specialist Q First Class in the WAVES.
Many local veterans attended the ceremony, including World War II veterans Hap Metivier and David Phillips. Veteran Walter Hoffman, a resident of Vine Valley – who fought and was wounded twice at the Battle of Anzio in Italy during World War II – was unable to attend the event.
An important part of the Walk of Honor is its brick path. These bricks, also called pavers, are engraved with the name, rank and service of each veteran.
Hap Metivier spoke about “listening to the bricks.” He talked about the four generations of veterans: World War II/Korea, Vietnam, The Gulf Wars, and wars yet to come. He described how veterans from the different branches of service have two things in common: a love for our country, and basic training. Many of these men and women have never told anyone about their experiences. Hap went on to say that the pavers come alive when veterans’ names are etched in them. Each veteran’s story, dedication, and love for our country is embodied in the brick. He recommended that each of us visit the memorial on a quiet evening to sit and listen. If you listen deep enough, he added, the bricks will speak to you.
On an unusually warm winter evening, I took Hap’s advice. I got out of my car as the sun was setting over the west side of the lake. Except for a gentle breeze and the rustling of the flag, the area was quiet and peaceful. I stared down at the pavers and read each name. And, I listened. As I did, I believe I heard the soft voices and felt the presence of these men and women who proudly served our nation. They talked of honor, pride and dedication. In the fading light of the warm evening, I was honored to be so close to these veterans.
As I continued to listen, I thought about how these individuals served our community after they served their country. They were fathers and mothers, aunts and uncles, brothers and sisters. Some served in official positions within the town, and others became business and civic leaders. Each person continued to contribute, and is fondly remembered by family, friends and the community.
During the ceremony, Lieutenant Colonel Heather Alexander, USAF (Ret.), a graduate of Marcus Whitman High School, remarked that veterans love our country, and while “we travel afar, our heart is where we come from.”
The Vine Valley Community House sells the pavers. If you are interested in honoring a veteran or supporting the Walk of Honor, please contact Sue Ford at 585-554-7051 for more information.
And remember, on this Memorial Day please visit our Walk of Honor, and listen to the bricks.
by Win Harper