Rally round the flag, or at least around the flagpole that stands in Guthrie Park in Riverside. Guthrie Park is located between the Riverside Library (on Burling Road) and the train station, and aside from calling it the park across from the library or the park where July 4th festivities are held, it has a name and some significance.
While many come and enjoy the greenspace, rest on the park benches, enjoy concerts or various ceremonies, not many take the time to look at the boulders around the flagpole which have been placed as memorials to residents who have served the village or our country.
The name of the Park Guthrie Park is in honor of S. Ashley Guthrie and is so designated by a boulder dedicated on May 31, 1968 in recognition of almost 50 years of service to his community, church and nation.
The plaque states he did so “with honor and dedication.” The flagpole itself is in memory of Carl B. Smith and was donated by his family, noting his service to his country in the Navy during World War II. As a member of the Riverside Police Force he earned the rank of lieutenant.
Looking at the other boulders in the park, there is evidence that early schoolchildren in Riverside were made aware of residents who gave their lives for their country and recognized their service by dedicating boulders and engraved plaques to show their appreciation.
Pvt. Albert Edward Moore, United States Marine Corps, 4th Brigade 2nd Division was remembered for having given his life for his country on July 19, 1918 in Aisne during a Marine counterattack against German forces in which the brigade sustained 1,972 casualties in the first two days of the battle.
Another memorializes Sgt. James P. Quinn of the 322nd Field Artillery Co., 86th Division who died on Feb. 4, 1918 at Camp Logan. Also in World War I was Rev. Hedley Heber Cooper who served as a chaplain and was killed an the battle front in France. The date of his death is listed as May 26, 1918. The grammar school children of Riverside completed their dedication with a plaque on stone to honor all who had served in World War I from 1914-18.
The local chapter of the American Legion erected a stone bearing stating in “Memory of men from the community who gave the last full measure of devotion in World Wars I and II.” Included on the plaque is a list of names of those who served and gave their lives during the two wars.
The names of John W. Bezecny and Donald Pratt who gave their lives during the Vietnam War from 1965-69 are remembered in yet another monument.
The last monument was dedicated by the Riverside Garden Club as a tribute to the Armed Forces of America and named Blue Star Memorial By Way. The Garden Club has been instrumental in the plantings around the flagpole, making it a true place to reflect and remember those who gave their lives for freedom.
Guthrie Park can now be remembered as it should be as not only a place of celebration but one of serenity and reflection. The area should be treated with respect and the monuments should be there as reminders and not as something to climb on.
Next week, (this is a two-parter) I share with you other points and monuments in Riverside. You can tour many of the sites on bike or walking, because it’s too expensive to drive anywhere lately.