Certain things should never be forgotten….
Exactly one hundred years ago, our community showed its true colors as America entered the “War to End All Wars” and 1917 became a year of sacrifice, service, and support that helped define who we are, still to this day. In that year, many important organizations that continue to serve our community, from the New York State Police to the United Way were born right here in Onondaga County. Though it was one hundred years ago, certain things should never be forgotten.
The first Onondaga County soldier to make the ultimate sacrifice in combat was Corporal Homer Wheaton from Pompey. In a crowded bunker in France, under heavy bombardment, Wheaton used his own body to shield his comrades from an active grenade. For “extreme valor and heroism” he was posthumously awarded the very first Distinguished Service Cross in American history. It is the second highest honor bestowed by the U.S. military.
That medal and the compelling story of Corporal Wheaton are currently on display in a major exhibit on World War I at our museum in downtown Syracuse. Rare artifacts, like the medal (there’s only one “first”) and heroic legacies, like Homer Wheaton’s, are just parts of our community identity that OHA collects, preserves, and shares every day.
Our collections are phenomenal and our stories are motivational and inspirational. They show what we’ve accomplished and contributed to the world around us. They build pride and encourage legacies worthy of our great heritage.
Please help us continue to collect and preserve our past and share these treasured mementos and stories. We cannot do it without your help, so please make your tax deductible contribution to OHA today.
Gregg A. Tripoli