Veterans Cemetery shouldn’t be memorial for 1

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 16 June 2014 at 12:00 am


A new cemetery for Western New York veterans won’t be far from Orleans County. The 132-acre site is planned for Pembroke near a Thruway exit. That seems an ideal location – easy access for veterans and their families from Buffalo to Rochester and small towns in between. It will be a lot closer than the Bath National Cemetery in Steuben County, the closest veterans’ cemetery.

The cemetery in Pembroke could bear the name of a decorated war hero from Buffalo. U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer is pushing for the site to honor “Wild Bill” Donovan. He served as a Lt. Colonel in World War I. He founded and led the Office of Strategic Services, a precursor to the CIA, during World War II. Donovan is the only American to earn all four of the highest military awards in the United States.

Donovan is deserving of our respect. But I don’t think any cemetery for veterans should single out the service and sacrifice of one man above others who also heeded the call and gave of themselves, many paying the ultimate price.

Perhaps a visitor center at the site could bear Donovan’s name. The Buffalo News on Sunday editorialized that naming the cemetery for Donovan doesn’t go far enough in honoring this man. Some community leaders pushed for a new federal courthouse built in Buffalo to be named for Donovan, but that honor went to Robert H. Jackson, a former U.S. attorney and Supreme Court justice from Jamestown.

I don’t think a cemetery should bear the name of any one individual. Imagine if community leaders decided Mount Albion Cemetery should be known as the Rufus Bullock Cemetery as a memorial for a native son who served as governor of Georgia?

The cemetery in Pembroke should be known as the Western New York Veterans’ Cemetery, honoring a group of men and women who served their country. The WNY community should try harder to find a way to honor Donovan.