Photo by Tom Rivers
MEDINA – A wreath was placed on a World War I cannon at State Street Park today when the cannon was rededicated following more than a year of restoration work by Seed Artillery Reproduction and Restoration, in Altoona, Pa.
Since 1935, the B.L. 60 Pounder British field gun has been the centerpiece of not only the World War I memorial in Medina and also village’s annual Memorial Day observances.
The cannon was removed in March 2018 to Seed Artillery Reproduction & Restoration, where it was completely stripped, disassembled, and rebuilt using newly repaired and remanufactured parts.
The display for the cannon now includes three new flagpoles – one for an American Flag, signifying the soldiers of Medina who served and gave their lives in France during the Great War; one for a British flag, signifying the gun’s heritage; and one for a French flag, signifying the theater of service for the big gun and our local soldiers.
A new granite slant was installed, featuring a refurbished bronze plaque that was originally with the monument in 1935. New lighting to up-light both the cannon and flags also has been installed.
Dan Anderson, left, is commander of the VFW and Glenn Whitmore is commander of the American Legion. They place the wreath on the cannon.
The rare and historic artillery piece was manufactured by the Elswick Ordnance Company, Newcastle upon Tyne, England, in 1916 and saw extensive service on the Western Front during World War I, firing a total of 4,342 rounds in combat action. It weighs six tons and is a 5 inch/127mm caliber gun. There are few left in the world today.
George Bildleman, owner of Orleans Ford, contributed $40,000 to have the cannon restored.
State Assemblyman Steve Hawley was among the speakers during today’s Memorial Day service and rededication. He also noted this year is the 100th anniversary of the American Legion.
Medina Mayor Mike Sidari also addressed the crowd. He said the community has several memorials for veterans — the historic cannons at Boxwood Cemetery, the tank at Vets Park, the bronze statue and monument outside the former Medina Armory, and Butts Park named for John Butts who was killed in World War I and awarded the Medal of Honor.
The mayor urged the community members, when they are passing by those memorials, to “remember those who fought and died for our freedom to gather and to live in this great nation.”
Sidari thanked Bidleman for the $40,000 donation, and others who contributed to the effort: the Orleans Renaissance Group, the VFW, the American Legion, Village of Medina DPW, Lyons Collision, Automotive Solutions, Orleans Ready Mix Concrete, BarnesMetal Finishing, Brigden Memorials and Anzalone Electric.
Orleans County Legislature Chairwoman Lynne Johnson thanked veterans and their families for their sacrifice and service. That includes 1.1 million soldiers who have died during wartime in the country’s history, and about 2.8 million who have been wounded.
“These numbers should truly humble us, as they represent people – individuals – who were brothers, husbands, mothers, sisters, friends. These were people woven into the fabric of communities across the nation. They were loved. They were mourned. And they were missed.”
She urged the community to befriend veterans who are their neighbors, to visit veterans in nursing homes, and to volunteer as drivers in the van service that takes vets to medical appointments.
“Working together with friends, neighbors, veteran groups and entire communities, we can ensure that the sacrifices made by our nation’s finest and bravest never go unappreciated and that their memories are never forgotten,” Johnson said.
Jim Steele, director of the Medina Marching Band, directs the group in playing, “The Star Spangled Banner.”
The Rev. Lambert Duncan, pastor of the Glad Tidings Baptist Church in Medina, gives the invocation.
Tom Walders plays Taps while local veterans stand at attention.