Bronze statue of soldier dedicated in Medina

Photos by Tom Rivers: Local veterans serve as the Honor Guard during a dedication ceremony on Saturday for a bronze statue at the former Medina Armory, which has been a YMCA for more than three decades.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 8 September 2019 at 8:28 am

‘Let this statue serve as a representative for the boys who fought for the freedom and liberties for us and future generations. And let it be a symbol of peace.’ – Lynne Menz

MEDINA – A bronze statue, made to represent the young men who trained in Medina and then went off to war, was dedicated on Saturday, culminating a 13-year effort to create a monument for local residents who trained to be soldiers at the site.

The Armory opened in 1901. In 1977, it was closed by the National Guard.

Agnes Pescara of Rochester takes a picture of the names of World War II veterans who trained at the Armory, including her father, Garry Pescara. Her brother Gerry Pescara of Albion would later serve in Vietnam.

“I think it’s absolutely amazing,” she said about the monument. “I will always be proud of my father and brother for what they did.”

The names of 550 soldiers are on the monument. They trained at the site and served in the Spanish-American War, the Mexican Border Incursion in 1916, World War I, World War II, and the Cold War from 1947 to 1977.

Local veterans Glenn Whitmore, left, and Dan Anderson raise the American flag. The monument includes three flag poles. The New York State flag and POW/MIA flag also are usually displayed.

Lynne Menz thanks the many supporters of the project. Her late father, Bill Menz, had the vision for the monument and pushed to get it done.

Families look over the monument on Pearl Street in Medina following an hour-long dedication ceremony on Saturday.

The late Bill Menz pushed to create the monument and statue. He trained at the building in 1953, when he joined Company C of the 174th Armored Infantry. He was promoted to corporal before transferring to active duty in 1956 to the US Army National Guard. He would come back to Medina and work about 40 years in construction as a plasterer/mason.

When the Armory closed, Menz was on the committee that helped it find a new use as a YMCA. Menz, who died at age 86 on July 16, 2018, wanted the community to know the building’s historical role in preparing soldiers to fight on behalf of the country.

He teamed with his friend John Fuller to create a sandstone monument in front of the Y that listed 550 soldiers who trained at the Armory and were then deployed in wars. Menz and Fuller cut the stone and built the monument.

But it wasn’t done. Menz wanted a bronze statue of a soldier on top. He pushed for nearly a decade to raise the $65,000 for the statue. He was able to see it in pieces at the foundry before his death.

Lynne Menz pushed the project following her father’s death, working out the details to have the statue moved from the foundry to Medina and then be installed atop the monument. She also had the statue in Medina’s Parade of Lights for its public debut on Nov. 24 last year. The 7-foot-high statue then spent the winter inside the YMCA.

On April 17, it was installed atop the monument. It was officially dedicated on Saturday to help kick off the fourth annual Orleans County Heritage Festival, which continues until Sept. 15.

“Let this statue serve as a representative for the boys who fought for the freedom and liberties for us and future generations,” Lynne Menz said. “And let it be a symbol of peace.”

Charlie Nesbitt, a helicopter pilot during the Vietnam War and later a state assemblyman, said the statue and memorial will tell the story to future generations of the Armory’s role in training soldiers.

He praised the late Bill Menz for not wanting the building’s original purpose to be lost to the community, to honor the sacrifice of the young men who served from the local small towns.

“On this day we honor those who came before us and the vision of Bill Menz and the committee,” Nesbitt said.

State Assemblyman Steve Hawley said the statue stands strong and resilient like the soldiers who trained at the Armory. He praised the 13-year effort from volunteers to make the monument a reality.

A Patriot Guard Rider holds an American flag during the ceremony.

Cathy Fox, secretary of Company F Memorial Committee, would later become the group’s co-chairwoman. Fox’s father Robert Raymondjack and grandfather, Vincent Raymondjack, are listed on the monument among the names of 550 soldiers.

Cathy Fox said Bill Menz made the project a mission.

“This monument wouldn’t be here without the passion, insight, perseverance, dedication  and hard work of one man: the chairperson of the Company F Memorial Committee, Bill Menz.”

Fox said 12 of the men listed on the monument were killed in action.

Since the bronze statue was put in place in April, some of the additional work at the monument included five Medina sandstone benches, including this one with the flowers on top. The benches were made by Jordan Rath, a mason in Medina.

The five benches by the monument will have plaques to recognize the contributors to the project.

There will be bronze plaques on each bench.

One plaque will be for Bill Menz: “In honor of William A. Menz for his dedication to preserving our military history.”

Another plaque will note Carl Petronio, a member of the National Guard, who made a large donation early in the fundraising process that gave the effort strong momentum.

Medina VFW Post 1483 will be recognized for a $10,000 donation to the project.

Bob Waters, original member of the Armory Action Committee and Medina Sandstone Society, also was a key supporter of the project and to finding a new use for the Armory.

“Bob Waters had pride in this community beyond measure,” Lynne Menz said. “His support for assembling a team of leaders to preserve the Medina Armory and make it into a community center for generations to enjoy is a benefit to us all.” Talis Equity donated anonymously in honor of Waters.

Another plaque will be in honor of all the contributors at large from the community.

“This community has an incredibly generous spirit so we are acknowledging all contributors that supported the creation of this monument,” Menz said. “It took a village and you came through.”

Cathy Fox holds a “Contributors’ List” that will be displayed inside the YMCA in the very near future.

Brian Porter of Pendleton created the bronze statue and was recognized with a “uniform,” a white sweatshirt with an image of the monument. Bill Menz wore a sweatshirt with the monument for several years. Porter gets an updated version of the sweatshirt, showing the monument with the statue on top.

The statue weighs 1,400 pounds.

Local dignitaries observe the playing of “Taps.” The group includes Medina Mayor Mike Sidari, Medina Sandstone Society President David Miller, former State Assemblyman Charles Nesbitt, State Assemblyman Steve Hawley and County Legislator Don Allport.

Jim Freas served as master of ceremonies of the dedication and gave the welcome message.

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