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Hastings Historical Society Honors Town's Veterans Day

Natalie Barry and Debby Beece, Historical Society trustees and curators of the exhibit, with one of the displays.
Natalie Barry and Debby Beece, Historical Society trustees and curators of the exhibit, with one of the displays. Photo Credit: Jes Siart

HASTINGS-ON-HUDSON, N.Y. – On a day when we remember the men and women who have served their country, The Hastings Historical Society saluted local heroes with the exhibit “Hastings Serves at Home and Abroad.”

The display opened Oct. 21 and features stories, artifacts, photos and letters from World Wars I and II and the Korean and Vietnam wars.

“We felt like it was time,” said Natalie Barry, a Historical Society trustee and curator of the exhibit. “We wanted to honor our vets.”

Hastings lost 12 of its own in World War I, 31 in World War II, one in the Korean War and several wounded, but none lost, in Vietnam, according to the exhibit.

The exhibit gave a younger generation the opportunity to learn about the sacrifices of local veterans through a project of the Hastings High School photography club. Students connected with local veterans, then took portraits of them and placed them alongside old wartime photos and documents. The project is on display at the Historical Society.

The exhibit also features a computer listening station where people can scroll through a directory of oral histories and hear stories of war from the veterans themselves.

Hastings has played a special role throughout the country’s wars, supplying such vital items as ammunition, tubing, cable, dyes and chemicals, according to Debby Beece, a Historical Society trustee and curator of the exhibit.

The village’s close proximity to the Old Croton Aqueduct had citizens on high alert during World War I, and many residents, both military and civilian, helped protect the water supply from potential threats, including sabotage, according to the exhibit.

Many of the Hastings residents who served in Vietnam were Marines who volunteered, eager to fight for their country, and quickly found themselves in harrowing situations, Beece said.

“They got in the middle of Vietnam and realized they were in Hell,” Beece said.

The challenging conditions soldiers dealt with on a daily basis are discussed in the exhibit by Robert Bliss, a Hastings resident who won a Purple Heart in Korean.

Although many of the veterans were war heroes, several chose to return to Hastings and live quiet lives. One such vet is Charles Bo Kim, a South Korean military captain who now owns a dry-cleaning service on Warburton Avenue, according to the exhibit.

The exhibit will run for the next nine months or perhaps  a year. The Hastings Historical Society is located at 407 Broadway and is open Monday and Thursday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., or by appointment by calling 914-478-2249.

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