On Saturday evening, May 28, a gathering of holiday remainders converged in front of the Orderville Town Office for the Long Valley Memorial Wall Dedication program.
Following the singing of our national anthem by local artist Hazel Harris, the raising of flags ceremony took place in recognition of each branch: Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, as well as Space Force. Glen Chamberlain then spoke, and special presentations were hosted by much-loved and admired Valley Elementary School (VES) retiree, Marianne Leigh, with citations for Mayor Bob Caruso and his daughter, Emalene Lake (in absentia), for their inspiring energetic drive in ram-rodding the completion of the whole project. An informally assembled choir of VES pupils sang Woody Guthrie’s This Land Is Your Land, under the direction of keyboardist Robert Lacey. Long Valley historian and poet Myrna Cox extolled the true self-sacrificing patriotic devotion of the many she’s personally known with her reverential tribute, The Name on the Wall. The unveiling of the monument was preceded by a gun salute by Jeffrey Cox, Thomas Lamb, Kevin Chamberlain, Dellas Sorensen, Leland Spencer, Glen Chamberlain and Tim Esplin, following a plaintive Taps performance by Maestro Lacey.
“It was a long three-and-a- half years; we worked on it for quite a while,” explains Commander Dan Spencer of the Thaddeus Hodges American Legion Post 120. “Originally, they wanted it just Orderville. Some of us got together and pressed them to make it Long Valley-wide, which I think is better; a better idea. Put it in a spot where we could make it like it is; a lot larger to have it like we want.
“You know, I’m pretty happy!” enthused the former military police sergeant serving in the Persian Gulf. “As a veteran myself, I think it’s pretty neat to have it, and to have it done. It’s amazing how many names are on that wall. There are three stones right there just from this era. So, with World War II, there’s a lot there.
“What else is amazing: there’s not too many of them on there that say KIA, which means ‘Killed In Action.’ You know, two or three on there; but that’s a pretty good ratio, especially in World War II, when you think about it. In World War I, there’s two on there where one of them is ‘Missing in Action.’ That’s Thaddeus Hodges. The other one which is amazing to me, because I’m Marine Corps, is whose last name is Fackrell (Hugh S.). And he was actually in the Battle of Belleau Wood. That’s an iconic battle in the Marine Corps; they teach that. I had no idea until I studied that and separated the names. I was actually pretty humbled when I came across that name, ‘cause I had no clue. And it’s not just him; there are a few others there, too.
“During the American Legion’s 100th Anniversary (March 19, 2019), we changed our name to honor Thaddeus Hodges. He was on a ship in the English Channel when one morning it was torpedoed, and he went down with the ship: ‘Missing in Action.’ They got a plaque over there in England of guys that went down. He was in-transit; they lost one whole battalion when that torpedo took it. So, I want to encourage everybody to come down here and look at this. If you have relatives on there you know, pay homage to it.”
Marianne Leigh was on hand to provide perspective, proclaiming it a “joint effort community-wise. [It] started with a small committee. We thought it was going to take years and years, but with Emalene Lake on-board, it took three-and-a-half years to raise the money ($55,000-plus). We’re still in the process: we’d like to raise a little bit more to get a bronze statue there.
“So, whoever comes after will probably work on that a little bit. We’ve got a really nice start; but, thanks to the committee, and businesses and family-members who donated lots of money, we have a beautiful monument in honor of our veterans.”
Former mayor of Orderville, Bob Caruso, started the Veterans Memorial project when he took office four years ago. He and Town Council member Marianne Leigh reached out to locals and veterans to be on the newly formed committee to raise the funds and fulfill this task. They figured it would take 8 - 10 years to raise the money and get things built. One year into the project and the committee was down to a few members and had little progress towards the memorial. Mayor Caruso then “voluntold” his daughter, Emalene Lake, that he was putting her on the committee, “to get things done”. She created a Facebook group, Long Valley Veteran’s Memorial, to get the word out about the project, fundraising events, gathering veterans’ information, donations needed and posting progress updates.
With members from the Women’s Auxiliary: Joann Lamb - president, Julie Taylor, Mickie Davis; American Legion Post 120: Commander-Dan Spencer, Kevin Chamberlain, Glenn Chamberlain, Ron Taylor, and Orderville Town Council member Chelcie Cox, this project started moving along.
The dinners, bake sales, auctions, raffles, and any other events Emalene could get the group into, helped with community wide involvement, resources and funding this monument. She wants to thank all the local business and residents for putting up with the constant begging of donations and willingness to give to the cause.
With determination, blood, sweat, tears, and some swear words, the projected eight – 10-year project was completed in only three years with a pandemic interrupting the world. The groundbreaking began June 17, 2021, with R. Ander- son Construction LLC digging the foundation. Next came the concrete pour by Monument Builders on August 23, 2021.
Then the waiting began for 11,100 lbs. of granite to arrive at Kenworthy Monuments in St. George. During the construction phases American Legion post 120 commander Dan Spencer was busy sorting the compiled names into dates of conflict. Emalene was still asking for the public’s help to find Long Valley veterans, researching and trying to verify all info obtained and asking the Kane County Recorder for any military documents on file.
Finally, after the slabs arrived in Orderville on May 23, the dedication of the memorial very fittingly took place over Memorial Day weekend on May 28.
This has been a long-awaited project in honor of all our service men and women who have served, are serving and have given their lives for our freedoms.