New Matamoras church remembers World War I

Photo by Doug Loyer VFW Post 6387 does a rifle salute for the 100th anniversary of the World War I armistice.

NEW MATRAMORAS — New Matamoras United Methodist Church held a celebration Sunday marking the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Armistice which ended World War I to remember those who serviced in the war and what it meant for the U.S.

The church honored the soldiers, nurses and everyone that served and those who gave everything. The service included the Pledge of Allegiance, film clips, poems and patriotic songs. At the end of the service, church bells rang out and the honorary shots were fired by the New Matamoras VFW Post 6387.

WWI was fought from July 28, 1914 to November 11, 1918. On the eleventh month, eleventh day and eleventh hour, the “war to end all wars” ended with the signing of the Armistice.

“Every year we do a Memorial Day celebration to support the veterans,” said Missy Gust, event organizer. “This year John Miller and my father, Doug Cochran, wanted to make sure we commemorate WWI. They got some memorabilia and we started putting this together.”

During Sunday’s service, the Rev. Dennis Williams emphasized that Americans should never forget the courage and sacrifice of those soldiers, nurses and everyone who served during WWI in their fight for peace and for the freedom enjoyed today because of them.

Photo by Doug Loyer The Rev. Dennis Williams leads the New Matamoras United Methodist Church during Sunday’s patriotic service remembering the 100th Anniversary of the World War I armistice.

“We don’t want people to forget,” said Doug Cochran, a Vietnam vet who was born and raised in New Matamoras. “We did this to remember them.”

“We thought that we should recognize the 100th anniversary of the WWI Armistice because of the significance of it,” said John Miller, New Matamoras Area Historical Society president and Lay Leader of New Matamoras UMC. “The idea with the church bells back then was because it was hard to communicate. When the war ended, the church bells rang in the area to let them know the war was over.”

Miller explained however that some did not know right away that the global war was over and kept fighting. Raymond Jones, from New Matamoras, actually died on Armistice Day, Nov. 11, 2018, when the war was actually over. His name and 10 others are engraved on the World War I Monument in New Matamoras.

The monument itself was funded by school children getting penny donations and the monument was installed in 1920. The 11 names engraved in the monument are Grandview/New Matamoras people that died in WWI, including 10 enlisted men and one Red Cross nurse.

Raymond Fox, the father of Romena Beaver of New Matamoras served in WWI and his uniform was on display with other items at the church event.

Photo by Doug Loyer John Miller, Doug Cochran and Missy Gust stand next to the World War I Monument in New Matamoras not far from New Matamoras United Methodist Church.

“I know my father would be honored if he were here today knowing that people are remembering the end of WWI,” said Romena. “He was a very patriotic man.”

Romena’s sons, Jim and Charles Beaver and Joe Fox, all grandsons of Raymond, were also there for the service.

“It makes you proud to know he and the others served in WWI,” said Charles.

Jim added that his grandfather told the story that they had numbers at the end of the war to determine when they were sent home. Another soldier told his grandfather that he had a wife and family back so his grandfather decided to switch numbers with him so the other soldier could go home earlier.

“A lot of people back at that time gave their lives. In all of our wars and conflicts lives were lost to protect our country,” said Dean Cochran, VFW Post 6387 Commander. “WWI was a terrible war … they all were. It’s important that our younger generation understand what went on.”

Photo by Doug Loyer A selection of Word War I memorabilia was on display for the event.

“I think today’s memorial is great,” said Navy vet John Hutchison of New Matamoras. “It’s important we not forget.”

Photo by Doug Loyer Jim Beaver, Romena Beaver, Charles Beaver and Raymond Fox stand next to the World War I uniform of Raymond Fox that was on display with other items.