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Story by: Warrant Officer Ubon Mendie - NY Guard Public Affairs
Dated: Sun, May 1, 2011
SLEEPY HOLLOW -- Members of the New York Guard kept a nearly century-old tradition alive with their memorial service for the 93rd Annual First Provisional Regiment at the cemetery here May 1.
The 56th Brigade, part of the all-volunteer state defense force, leads the ceremony annually preserve the memory of those who paid the ultimate sacrifice to protect New York in the Great War.
Continuing the 93-year tradition, troops gathered at the memorial stone to recall 32 soldiers of the New York Guard‘s original 1st Provisional Regiment who died during the Spanish influenza pandemic of 1918. The Guardsmen were deployed stateside to replace the Army National Guard‘s 27th Infantry Division, following their overseas deployment in World War I. “We gather at this site to recognize those who gave their lives to insure our sovereignty” said Sleepy Hollow Mayor Kenneth Wray. “Our presence is a show of support to those serving presently, and those of the past.” The New York Guard was activated to protect the New York state aqueduct system from feared sabotage by German agents. While on patrol guarding the state’s water supply, 32 guardsmen contracted the influenza virus, which eventually took their lives. To mark their sacrifice a boulder from Bonticou Crag in Ulster County’s Shawangunk Mountains, lay in memoriam -- a small piece from the vast area of the aqueduct the Guardsmen protected. This year‘s ceremony began with an opening precession by the 89th New York Guard Band, followed by two wreaths laid by representatives of both the New York Guard and the Veterans Corps of Artillery. Words of reflection were offered by Mayor Wray and Lt. Col. David Warager, commander of the 56th Brigade.
Over 8,000 New Yorkers, from all walks of life, served in the 1st Provisional Regiment, the original New York Guard unit. Forty died while performing homeland defense duty. Thirty-two of the deaths were attributed to complications from Spanish influenza.