SWANTON - A Swanton teen has sparked renewed interest in a war memorial that has come under attack by vandals, harsh weather, and the ravages of time.
After learning about the plight of the memorial near Broadway and Main Street in downtown Swanton, 17-year-old Michelle Spurgeon decided that she would try to rally support for a beautification project that would include repair and restoration work.
Some refer to the memorial as the All Wars Memorial and some call it the Foreign War Memorial. It pays tribute to about 400 area residents who served their country during wartime - the Spanish-American War, the Korean War, World War I or World War II. There are individual nameplates, but they were covered over by a white board at some point through the years, perhaps to hide the deteriorating condition of the nameplates.
After uncovering the nameplates, Miss Spurgeon copied each name and checked them against records to verify the information. Typed lists of names were given to a local firm that is making new nameplates, she said.
A new hinged window will be installed on the memorial's exhibit area, replacing the window that was broken by vandals during the winter, she said.
"We were planning to replace the window, and when it was smashed, that gave us more incentive," she said, adding that the display had to be cleaned out to remove glass shards, snow, and papers that were on exhibit, including poems. A piece of Plexiglas that was leaning against the back of the memorial was removed, too. Decals were mounted on the Plexiglas that is being stored at Miss Spurgeon's home.
Other portions of the memorial were "messed up" and taped
together, said Miss Spurgeon who contacted local organizations and Village Hall to ask for donations for the improvements.
Village Administrator Jon Gochenour said the village will pay half of the $1,100 expense to cover the bulk of the repairs and upgrades. The Swanton American Legion, the Swanton VFW, and the Swanton Elks are paying the other half. Additional funds are still needed for the new nameplates, and Miss Spurgeon said that she plans to contact another organization to ask for donations.
As plans were drawn up for the improvements, there were discussions about moving the memorial from the downtown area to another location, such as in Swanton Memorial Park, but some residents weren't in favor of that, Mr. Gochenour said.
Miss Spurgeon said more people would see the memorial if it were moved to the park.
Plans call for the memorial to be rededicated on Memorial Day.
A Girl Scout who is working toward earning her Gold Award, Miss Spurgeon is a senior at Swanton High School. She plans to attend Bowling Green State University and would like to become a second-grade teacher.
Contact Janet Romaker at: