May 7 ceremony in Sleepy Hollow honors New York state militiamen who died during World War 1

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New York Guard volunteers salute during the 2022 ceremony commemorating New York Guard members who died while guarding the New York City water system in World War I.

SLEEPY HOLLOW, NEW YORK (05/04/2023) (readMedia)-- Forty volunteer militiamen who die while protecting New York City's water supply during World War 1 will be honored during a ceremony on Sunday, May 7 at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery.

Thirty-seven members of the New York Guard died of influenza during the 1918 pandemic while protecting the aqueducts feeding New York City against sabotage attempts from 1917 until the end of 1918. The other three names on the stone died in accidents.

WHO: Members and leaders of the New York Guard, the state's uniformed, volunteer defense force; and the New York City Department of Environmental Protection Police.

WHAT: A memorial ceremony honoring the members of the 1st Provisional Regiment of the New York Guard who died while on state duty. This will be the 104th time the Aqueduct Defense Memorial Service has been held. The ceremony will take place at a marker made from a boulder taken from Bonticon Crag in the Shawangunk Mountains. The property for the memorial was purchased by the Rockefeller family.

WHEN: 11 a.m., Sunday, May 7, 2022

WHERE: Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, 540 Broadway, Sleepy Hollow, NY 10591.

Coverage Opportunities:

The ceremony will include remarks, a roll call of the names on the marker, and a ceremonial volley as well as the playing of taps

Contact New York Guard Capt. Mark Getman at 516-644-9743 for more information.


The New York Guard and World War I:

During the First World War German agents appeared to have successfully destroyed a munitions plant on Black Tom Island in Jersey City, New Jersey, prior to American entry into the war in the spring of 1917. There was concern that the New York City water system of reservoirs and aqueducts could be sabotaged as well.

In February 1917 the New York National Guard's 27th Division was ordered to patrol the reservoir system that ran from the Ashokan Reservoir to Manhattan. But in the summer of 1917 the 27th Division was called into federal service and sent to France, so a new force, the New York Guard, was formed to take the place of the National Guard. Across the country state's created State Guards of older men, and those who could not meet military physical requirements to replace the National Guard.

New York formed the 1st Provisional Regiment to guard the aqueduct system in 1917 and 1918. They guarded the section of These citizen volunteers, ranging from their teens to their 60s were armed with obsolete weapons and clothed in old uniforms and paid $1.25 a day, but they did their duty, walking patrol day-after-day and night-after-night. Average strength was about 1,600 volunteers. More than 8,000 New Yorkers served in this home guard during World War I.

When the "Spanish Influenza" swept across the world in 1918 and 1919, 32 New York Guard volunteers of the 1st Provisional Regiment were struck down in the last three months of 1918.

The New York Guard:

The New York Guard of today is an all-volunteer uniformed force whose members augment and assist the New York Army National Guard in response to state emergencies.

New York Guard members, who do not carry weapons, train in an unpaid status, unless they are ordered into State Active Duty by the governor. Many New York Guard members have prior military service in the National Guard, but many have no military service behind them. The New York Guard has an authorized strength of just over 700 volunteers.

Media AThe New York Guard of World War I was disbanded when the New York National Guard returned from federal service, but in 1940, as the National Guard was federalized again, Congress authorized the creation of State Guards. During World War II, about 22,000 New Yorkers volunteered for service.