New York militiamen who served during World War I honored at May 7 ceremony in Sleepy Hollow

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The New York Guard memorial in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery will be the focus of a memorial ceremony on Sunday, May 7.

SLEEPY HOLLOW, N.Y. (05/05/2017) (readMedia)-- Members of the New York Guard, the force which replaced the New York National Guard as a homeland defense force during World War I will be remembered during a ceremony at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery on Sunday, May 7. A marker in the cemetery notes the 40 members of the New York Guard who died while serving New York a century ago.

WHO: Current members of the New York Guard, New York's volunteer, state-defense force, including members of the New York Guard band.

WHAT: A memorial service to commemorate the members of the New York Guard's First Provisional Regiment who died while guarding New York City's water system in 1917 and 1918. Thirty-two of the men memorialized on the stone died from the Spanish Influenza pandemic which swept the world in 1918 as World War I raged.

WHEN: 11 a.m., Sunday, May 7, 2017

WHERE: Sleep Hollow Cemetery, Sleep Hollow New York, 540 N Broadway

Media should contact New York Guard Public Affairs Officer Mark Getman at 516-644-9743 for more information


The 1st Provisional Regiment New York Guard:

During the 1st 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, but in August 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. 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 so-called "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 1st Provisional Regiment Memorial:

To honor the New York Guard members who died on duty a bolder from Bonticon Crag in the Shawangunk Mountains, along the line of the aqueduct that the Guard members protected, was moved to Sleepy Hollow Cemetery and turned into a memorial on property dedicated by William Rockefeller.

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.

The 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.