Tonawanda News


August 14, 2009

ADAMCZYK: Honoring those who served, and everyone else

There were once baseball diamonds at Kenney Field, but changing attitudes toward what kids do with their recreational time converted them into soccer fields. You can still roam Lincoln and Sheridan Parks with a bat and a glove, but Kenney Field’s mission is different now. Chalk it off to the elasticity of preference in a country that values freedom and a plurality of options; like a longtime neighborhood pizzeria that one day morphs into a Thai restaurant, such is the nature of changing tastes and interests in the suburbs.

Some things in Kenney Field endure, like that little fighter jet, the Korean War-era relic defending the corner of Colvin Boulevard and Brighton Road for 50 years. Several generations of Kenmore and Tonawanda residents have admired it, played on it, recalled it with happy memories after they moved away. The Town of Tonawanda is charged with the mission of keeping the aircraft painted and repaired, so that it “reflects favorably on the Navy,” its actual owner.

The aircraft is under a tent now, its elaborate restoration about to conclude. Volunteers from Carubba Collision have been pounding out the dents in its aluminum airframe, and I suspect it will be breathtakingly beautiful by next week, when the adjacent Veterans Memorial will be dedicated.

Five years in planning, the memorial includes a striking representational centerpiece (a 7-foot-tall letter “V,” for veterans, in granite, sculpted by artist and Vietnam veteran Ralph Sirianni), surrounded by a somber and tasteful proscenium, flagpoles and walkways. It has a weight and a drama to it; bedroom communities like Tonawanda tend not to have classic and elegant sites such as this.

A colorful ceremony is planned for Tuesday afternoon, with celebrities above the rank of Local Politician. It will be a day to remember, by people who value their mobility and understand the portability of the landmarks in their lives.

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