Written by Ken Mastro
The traveling Veterans’ Wall of Fame was unveiled at John Jay Middle School in Cross River on Thursday, Jan. 12. The wall pays tribute to the 27 veterans from throughout Hudson Valley who were honored at a Veterans’ Hall of Fame induction ceremony in November. Each city, town and village within state Senator Greg Ball’s district was asked to nominate a veteran. Retired Private First Class Robert Joseph Williams of South Salem represented Lewisboro. It was the inaugural unveiling of the wall, which will be transported to other communities over the next three months. Each veteran’s picture and story appears on the wall.
“I think it’s important for our youth to see these war heroes,” said Town Board member Peter DeLucia. “It’s fitting that it is in the school. [Mr. Williams] wants to instill that history. It is an honor to be the first school [to host the wall].”
Mr. Williams was unable to attend the ceremony due to an illness. Former Town Supervisor Charles Duffy accepted a proclamation on his behalf, which deemed Jan. 12 “Robert Williams Day.”
John Jay Middle School Principal Richard Leprine said the wall, which was placed in the school’s main corridor, provides a great opportunity for students to learn about their local veterans who served the country.
“[Mr. Williams] is very engaging and very well liked,” said Mr. Leprine. [The students] will be reading the plaques and, I’m sure, learning. It’s important for our students to learn it.”
A successful small business owner and floor maintenance contractor, Mr. Williams joined the United States Army on Sept. 23, 1942, and was assigned to the 45th Infantry Division as a machine gunner until his discharge on Nov. 23, 1945. In addition to the Good Conduct Medal, Mr. Williams earned campaign ribbons for Sicily, Italy, Corsica, Southern France, Belgium, Luxembourg and Southern Germany, plus a Spearhead for the first wave of the Invasion of Sicily.
Mr. Williams currently sits on the executive board of the Lewisboro Senior Adults, runs its fishing derby, and participates at Intergenerational Day for the elementary schools twice a year. Each year, he lectures at John Jay Middle School, discussing the Civil War, World War I and World War II with the students. (ARTICLE)