Memorial Day Video: Cornwall, New York — 1920

Today Americans will gather to honor the servicemen and women who have lost their lives in defense of our nation, with topical attention paid to Iraq, Afghanistan and the war on terror. We join in paying respectful and grateful tribute, and in recalling all those who fought and died for America’s freedom.

In remembrance, we bring you from the wonderful Prelinger Archives a 15-minute silent-film report on Memorial Day events in the Hudson River town of Cornwall, N.Y., 57 years ago. A local historian, Janet Dempsey, highlights the newspaper coverage of the day:

The event was fully covered by the Cornwall Press, beginning with a special edition on May 27th, its cover printed on glossy paper bordered by a red and blue stripe, the mast-head flanked by American and French flags. The headline “Significant Event Staged for Memorial Day in Cornwall” was followed by the details: “Captain Pierre Lecomtedu Nouy, a distinguished citizen of France – an embattled soldier of the Great World War — representing the French Government will present to the people of Cornwall, in the name of his country, a seventy-seven milimetre cannon, captured from the Germans in combat, “taken” when the German army made its final fatal drive against Paris.. .it is the only captured cannon of the great World War ever presented to an American community.” This great honor, the article continued, was due to the efforts of Dr. Ernest G. Stillman…

On page two of the paper was listed “The Veteran Dead of Cornwall,” a total of one hundred and seven, buried in ten town and neighboring cemeteries.

Captain du Noüy was a remarkable man, a world-renowned biologist, evolutionist, mathematician and philosopher who served as an officer in the Great War. (His 1947 Time obituary is here.)

And the connection to Memorial Day 1920 and modern manufacturing in the United States? Liberty, earned with great sacrifice, that allows our country to prosper. For which we honor the fallen of Cornwall and all America.