On May 31st, like thousands of other communities around our Nation, East Hampton will celebrate Memorial Day, in honor of those who so valiantly gave their lives for the freedom and liberty we all enjoy, but often take for granted. Probably very few have ever noticed or studied our first Veterans Memorial. It sits in the Village Center on the corner of the Congregational Church lawn. The annual Memorial Day Parade culminates their and a tradional service occurs, remembering those veterans who passed away during the year. Typically High School Students make presentations such as The Gettysburg Address and the poem In Flanders Fields with a guest speaker.
The Memorial's origins in the Village Center stem from a public meeting held at Carriers’s Casino attended by over 800 people on the first Armistice Day (Nov. 11, 1920) recognizing the end of World War I, after the organization of the local American Legion Post No. 64. Carl Price, author of Yankee Township, delivered an address about The Town in Seven Wars, and his “remarks were concluded with a taunting reproach for East Hampton's failure to erect a memorial to the men and women who had represented the town so valiantly in the several wars.” Present was Henry T. Sellew, Civil War Veteran, then over 80, who left the meeting “in high dudgeon, vowing that he would not rest content until such a monument had been erected, even if he had to go get the stone himself.” “This he did literally, with the assistance of Mayo S. Purple; and sixteen oxen bore the huge glacial bolder from Marlborough, where on the church green it was set up.”
Dedicated on Labor Day 1921, Thomas J. Bannigan, Vice Commander of the National American Legion and Governor Everett J. Lake unveiled the monument, which disclosed a rough monolith typical of the New England hillsides, and bearing bronze tablets inscribed “TO THE MEMORY OF THE PATRIOT MEN OF CHATHAM WHO BRAVELY BORE THEIR PART IN THE WAR OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION; THE WAR OF 182; THE CIVIL WAR; AND WW I,” with their names thereon inscribed.