City Memorials


Although many Amsterdamians fought in the American Revolution and the War of 1812, there was no perceived local need to memorialize their contributions: it was a small community, and everyone knew who had done what. Monuments, if any, when they were built, were for the actual battlefields.

A generation after the Civil War, with the softening of memories of the horrors of war and the growth of city and veterans organizations like the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) (see below), a desire arose to commemorate those had served, and especially, those who died. Two Civil War monuments, and one for the Spanish American War, were built in local cemeteries with local veteran funds.

With the coming of the First World War (then simply the World War or the Great War), the city stepped up to assume more of these responsibilities. A precedent was established that some monuments would honor those who died in service, some those who had served and survived, and some individual heroes.

Eventually, the circle would come full around, with the creation of the Amsterdam Veterans' Memorial, without distinction, honoring all veterans of all periods of service, past, current, and future. But first, there would be another world war.

World War II Honor Rolls

After the outbreak of the war, residences, schools, and businesses began displaying white and red service flags whereon serving (blue) or killed in action (gold) stars were displayed for each associated service member. But there was still a desire to list their actual names, and it was clear that there would be many more than in the First World War. A decision was made to list service members by ward, in their ward.

These honor rolls were mainly of wood, although some were quite elaborate with columns, arches, and roofs, in addition to listing the names of those serving or sacrificed. They were not intended to be permanent, just until "the boys come home." As these temporary monuments fell into disrepair, or sites were sold into private hands, the honor lists were taken down.

Only the 4th (and possibly the 3rd, considering joint sponsorship of the 4th by the Republican Committees of both wards), 5th, 7th, and 8th Ward honor lists were replaced by permanent memorials. Why the other wards did not is unclear: Perhaps it was because certain wards had longstanding identities, and others didn't.

4th Ward Veterans MemorialPerhaps the most colorful replacement to a ward honor roll, this memorial started as a stone monument sponsored by the 3rd and 4th Ward Republican Committees in 1967. In 1972, flags were added to the monument. According to a plaque at the site, there were at first ten flags: United States, New York State, City of Amsterdam, Italian, Irish, Lebanese, Lithuanian, Polish, Puerto Rican, and Polish. An eleventh pole and flag, Israeli, was added soon afterwards. Each foreign flag represented an Amsterdam ethnic community that gave its sons and daughters to the service and also helped raise funding for the memorial.

The nearby intersection of Edison Street and Vrooman Avenue has been designated [Anthony] Draus Drive and [Karol] Krajewski Corners after two of the primary organizers who created the monument.

The land for the monument was reserved from the sale of the former Vrooman Avenue School.


For years, these monuments have served as a focal point for the community: the start or ending points for memorial parades and events.

Whereas once Amsterdam had over twenty veterans' organizations, now it has only two. American Legion Post 701 and the Polish American Veterans, who cooperate with Girl and Boy Scouts, and local school classes, work to ensure that each veteran's grave or veterans' memorial is appropriately honored each year.

A diverse community, Amsterdam is proud, and remembers, the devotions and sacrifices of it sons and daughters: whatever their background: when called, they were all Americans.

The information in this article is as accurate as known in April, 2018. For Corrections and additions to this article please contact the City Historian Robert Von Hasseln.