Photo of the Week
—– April 9, 2020 —–
FROM THE SCHS LIBRARY ARCHIVES
“How shall we know it is us without our past?”
– John Steinbeck
World War I Monument, Riverhead, 1920
by Wendy Polhemus-Annibell, Head Librarian
World War I Monument, Riverhead, 1920. (From the Collection of the Suffolk County Historical Society Library Archives. Copyright © Suffolk County Historical Society. All rights reserved.)
Donated by the people of Riverhead Town, the solid granite block with bronze plaque made by J.W. Friske Iron Co. of New York contains the names of the 306 young men from Riverhead who served in World War I. The memorial was erected in 1920 in front of the first home of the Suffolk County Historical Society building at the northwest corner of Main Street and Griffing Avenue. It was dedicated by Col. Theodore Roosevelt of Oyster Bay on Memorial Day 1920. Today the monument stands at the corner of the SCHS’s Great Lawn at Main and Court Streets.
Col. Theodore Roosevelt, Distinguished Soldier, Son of U.S. President, Dedicates WWI Monument in Riverhead on Memorial Day 1920
Col. Theodore Roosevelt of Oyster Bay delivered a stirring war and patriotic address at the unveiling of the monument. An immense crowd of people massed in front of the memorial at the junction of Main Street and Griffing Avenue to greet Col. Roosevelt. His car broke down on the way to Riverhead and he was delayed a considerable time, but after the several thousand people had heard his earnest words and the sincere way in which he delivered them, all felt that their wait had been well worthwhile.
“It’s our dead and the sacrifices we make that count,” Col. Roosevelt declared. “If the sacrifices made in the Revolutionary War, the Spanish War, the Civil War and the war just ended mean anything they mean a heritage to all in the future, a responsibility on you and on me to see that what they did and what they fought for bears fruit and that the country gets what they fought for and goes forward in the way they wished and hoped. We should now be doubly careful to preserve that heritage. One of the great lessons taught by the war is a splendid democracy. It is a fine thing to realize that we are all on the same basis, the man with $2 or the man with $200,000, and we must all be on the same plane as real Americans, living up to our country’s highest ideals.”
In unveiling the monument, Col. Roosevelt noted that it contained over 300 names and added: “I had no idea Riverhead had such a large list of service men.” Pointing out several Tuthills he asked if any were present, and an elderly, gray-haired woman with tears streaming down her face stepped up to him; she had lost a son in the war, George L. Tuthill.
INFO. SOURCES: Excerpts from “Distinguished Soldier, Son of Famous Man, Gives Fine Memorial Day Address in Riverhead,” Riverhead News-Review, June 4, 1920, SCHS Library Archives’ Historic Newspapers Collection.
The U.S. WWI Centennial Commission is holding a free World War I Genealogy Webinar tomorrow, April 10, 2020, at 1:00 pm EST. “FINDING YOUR WWI ANCESTORS” with author Debra Dudek will feature an introduction to WWI genealogy research and a free PDF copy of her WWI Genealogy Research Guide.
Click here to register: https://register.gotowebinar.
*UPDATED* CLOSURE NOTICE: The Suffolk County Historical Society Museum will remain closed based on the closure order issued by NYS Governor Cuomo in response to the COVID-19 crisis. We are also suspending all upcoming events at this time, and will continue to monitor the situation closely.
The health and safety of our visitors, members, and staff remain the Suffolk County Historical Society’s priority. Every day brings new developments related to the virus, and we understand that uncertainty can be unsettling. Our thoughts are with the entire Suffolk County and Long Island communities and with all who have been impacted by COVID-19.*UPDATED* CLOSURE NOTICE: The Suffolk County Historical Society Museum will remain closed based on the closure order issued by NYS Governor Cuomo in response to the COVID-19 crisis. We are also suspending all upcoming events at this time, and will continue to monitor the situation closely.
During our closure, we invite the Long Island community to visit our website for updates and special offerings, including a free subscription to our historic Photo of the Week series and our Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube content: www.
From all of us at the Suffolk County Historical Society, thank you for your continued support through these uncertain times. Stay tuned, and stay safe!