Today, on a snowy celebration of the 100th Veterans Day, much of the program was dedicated to a Remembrance of Colonel James R. Vogel USMR and Member of the Brighton Town Board who worked tireless to move the Memorial and its majestic Eagle from a vision into a reality.Congressman Joe Morelle praised Jim’s persistence. Joe told his staff that when Jim came to help the people of Brighton, just save time and give him what he wants. Monroe County Clerk and Monroe County Executive-elect Adam Bello recounted how Jim had a saying for everything. Once, Jim told Adam that a task force Adam managed “worked harder than a one armed paper hanger.” To this day, Adam is not sure what that means, but he guessed the task force worked really hard.
With snow covering the streets and a winter storm warning in effect, initially I hesitated attending the ceremony. Nonetheless, I pulled the winter clothes out of the closet and marched over to the Eagle. I wanted to remember Jim, but I also went for the memory of long time Brightonian Tom Hope, a World War Two veteran.
I met Tom at the Jewish Community Center maybe ten years ago. In his late 80s, Tom was still swimming at least three days a week. In the locker room, Tom told me of his experiences in the Battle of the Bulge. Tom vividly described the bitter cold and deep snow in the Ardennes. The men shivered the night away in foxholes only awakening to a day’s fighting in sometimes blizzard conditions.
Tom also explained the Veterans Memorial project. Like Jim, Tom was instrumental in making the site happen. Tom suggested I attend one of the project’s planning meetings. As Jim outlined the vision of the project, I sensed the final product would be something special. And it is.
If Tom Hope could fight for freedom through a blizzard in the Belgium woods, I could make to the Memorial through an afternoon snowfall.SEE ALSO The Bulge and Rochester seventy-four years later SEE ALSO Veterans Day in Brighton See also on another Brighton, Edward R. Crone Jr. who also fought in the Battle of the Bulge. Crone was captured and died in a German hospital shortly before the war ended. He became the model for Billy Pilgrim in Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five.