Three former Rotterdam veterans honored with new memorial


ROTTERDAM – US military physician William H. Hart Sr. loved children and dressed up as “Snappy the Clown” to entertain sick toddlers at local hospitals.

EJ Knapick, a World War II U.S. Navy veteran who served as a master aboard the USS Miami in the Pacific, was instrumental in launching the local AMVETS chapter, where he served in as commander and legislative president for three decades.

And Louis R. Lupi, Sr., a veteran WWII sniper, was a seasoned linguist who enjoyed hot fudge sundaes.

Once home he became a well-known community figure, having joined Rotterdam AMVETS Post 35 and was Grand Marshall 2019 of the Rotterdam Veteran Parade.

“When you saw Lou he always put a smile on your face,” said State Deputy Angelo Santabarbara from D-Rotterdam.

The three Rotterdam veterans, all recently departed, were among the inaugural names inscribed on a new veterans memorial unveiled at Via Port Rotterdam on Sunday as part of Memorial Day sightings.

Santabarbara worked with the mall to select the location and designed the monument, a varnished wooden structure slightly reminiscent of a layered cake

Each branch of the military is represented on the monument and more names will be added over time.

The declining coronavirus pandemic has delayed deployment, according to lawmakers.

“It’s hard to pay homage the way we wanted,” Santabarbara said. “But it is never too late.”

Local dignitaries and veterans gathered for the unveiling on Sunday, which had all the attributes of a traditional Memorial Day ceremony, filled with ‘taps’, boy scouts, patriotic bunting, orations and booming chants. .

Officials hope the site will attract a quiet reflection from visitors and walkers of the malls.

Hart completed two tours of duty in Germany and one in San Francisco, and was posted to Vietnam from 1967 to 1968, for which he received a Bronze Star.

He died in November 2018 of complications from Agent Orange, the chemical agent used on Vietnam’s battlefields, according to his widow, Kathleen Hart, who said she was “delighted” with the monument.

“It makes it a daily memory for people and gives them the opportunity to know the sacrifices they have made for the country,” Hart said.

Commander Fred Clark of AMVETS Post 35 recalled Knapick’s work to charter the local.

“It was a dramatic moment,” said Clark.

Santabarbara added: “We started with a few members of the team, but he was the one who drove it.”

“This is what happens when veterans return home to their communities,” said Santabarbara, himself a US Army reservist.

Jacqueline Oliveira, senior executive at Elks Lodge # 2157, said that while welcome, the grim ceremony shouldn’t be seen as a celebration.

After all, these men and others gave their lives for their country.

“But we appreciate it,” Oliveira said.

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