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Saturday will be special in Toronto

Every Veterans Day is important, but this year’s will carry extra meaning to residents of Toronto — it will mark the 100th anniversary of the dedication of the nation’s first World War I memorial.

Organizers have been working for many months now to make sure the event is properly commemorated. They’ve put together a day’s worth of activities for Saturday to recognize veterans for their service and mark the monument’s centennial.

Events will begin at 9:30 a.m. with a parade. A presentation will follow at 11 a.m. that will feature speakers and a flyover. American Legion Post 86 will host a dinner beginning at 6 p.m. that is free to veterans.

The monument, which sits at the corner of Third and Market streets and is included in the National Register of Historic Places, was dedicated on Nov. 11, 1919, one year after the end of World War I. Commissioned by the Toronto War Board, it is cast in bronze, weighs 5 tons and was sculpted by Guiesseppe Moretti, who completed his work in just six months.

News reports from the time indicate that between 12,000 and 15,000 people came to the Gem City that day to see the dedication, and 3,000 people participated in the parade.

According to the Ohio Historical Marker that sits near the monument, Moretti said of the memorial, “A memorial should be erected to a single purpose as a tribute to the noble deeds of our heroes and should be inspired by the worthiness and sentiments of the human heart.”

It is a work that has stood the test of time, one that should be appreciated not just by residents of Toronto, but by all of those who live in the Tri-State Area and across the nation, a sentiment voiced by Thomas Hannan Jr., commander of Post 86.

“Toronto has always been a patriotic town, and we want people to come out and show their colors,” he said while discussing plans for Saturday’s events. “I want people to come from both sides of the river, not because it’s Toronto, but because it represents every soldier — not just in Ohio, but in the country.”

Those are important words as we remember those who served in World War I and the first monument dedicated in their honor on Saturday, and prepare to thank and recognize all of our veterans on Monday.

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