In a letter sent to Rye Mayor Josh Cohn and Rye City Council members on Sunday afternoon, the officers of the Rye American Legion Post 128 asked that no flags other than the American flag and the POW flag be flown at the war memorials in Rye. The notice comes less than 24 hours after the Mayor’s re-election campaign issued a statement indicating he plans to support the Pride flag at Wednesday’s city council meeting.
The comments from the American Legion are specifically directed at flagpoles that are part of war memorials. “If the City wants to do something [with another flag] – put another flag pole up or use the one at City Hall we have no issues with that. No issues,” Tim Moynihan, Adjutant, Finance Officer, Rye American Legion Post 128 told MyRye.com on Sunday.
The full letter follows:
Dear Mayor Cohn and City Council Members:
As longtime officers of the Rye, NY American Legion Post, we strongly object to any flag other than the flag of the United States or one honoring POW/MIAs, being placed on the flagpole at the WWI Memorial or the flagpole at the WWII, Korea, Vietnam Memorial at City Hall. These Memorials are dedicated to those who served and made the ultimate sacrifice for their country and the City of Rye. We consider these sites sacred and must be undisturbed by politics, social causes and division.
As a community we show our reverence for the names listed on these sites each year on Memorial Day. We call out their names. We remember them. While many names are listed, it’s especially important to recognize those Rye citizens who died (nine men in WWI, forty-six men in WWII, one in Korea, and three in Vietnam) as well as those citizens who are considered POW/MIA (one in Korea).
The WWI monument was dedicated in early October 1926. According to “The Rye Chronicle”, Oct. 2, 1926, Col. J Mathew Wainwright of Rye who spoke at the dedication emphasized the sacredness of this memorial.
“This is the last set of the drama of our village in the late war. This appropriate memorial will typify for all time the patriotism, the service, the sacrifice, the loyalty of the Village of Rye in the great struggle for liberty, for humanity, for democracy and for civilization. Under the folds of our beloved flag (This monument) will bear mute testimony to the coming generations of our villagers and the passing thousands that the men of Rye, the people of Rye were not found wanting. Those names distinguished by the gold star stand out and shine above the rest, for they laid upon their country’s altar the most a man has to give, their lives.”
According to that same Rye Chronicle, “The memorial was unveiled by Jack Geary and George Read, who lost brothers in the war, and the flag was raised by Miss Katherine Beary. During the unveiling the assemblage stood at reverent attention and sang the last line of the Star-Spangled banner.”
We consider it our duty to revere those men listed at the Rye Veterans Memorials. As such, we conduct special ceremonies each year on both Memorial Day and Veterans Day in conjunction with the City of Rye to honor those listed on the bronze plaques.
The flagpoles are key elements of each memorial site and have been since they were unveiled. These Memorial sites and flagpoles should not be used for political, social or other causes.
We consider them sacred sites. Therefore, we do not want any other flags other than the flag of the United States and/or POW/MIA flag on those sites.
Fred de Barros, Commander, Rye American Legion Post 128
Tim Moynihan, Adjutant, Finance Officer, Rye American Legion Post 128