In Remembrance Of all that have served this country
It's become so much more.
In 2004 Kavanagh released "In Remembrance Of," his book that honors Western New York soldiers that made the ultimate sacrifice while serving in the Vietnam War.
Eight years ago I sat with Kavanagh in the kitchen of his comfortable home in Kenmore. Fittingly enough this meeting took place the same time the Moving Vietnam Wall Memorial passed through our area and was on display in Mang Park during Kenmore Days.
It didn't take long for me to see the look in Kavanagh's eyes. He meant what he said about this book.
Eight years later, he feels even stronger about it.
A collection of newspaper clippings and death notices honoring WNYers that never made it home,
"In Remembrance Of" is currently on display for public viewing in the chapel at Forest Lawn Cemetery.
Open to the public from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. from April 30 through May 14. Fifteen days. One day for each of
the 15 years that the U.S. was involved in the Vietnam War.
As I sat with Kavanagh in his home that day eight years I was awestruck at how just how powerful the book is. Isn't about words put to paper. What makes this so touching is the fact that it literally puts a face on the war itself.
Through the photos you see the faces of these brave WNYers that never saw their families again and you realize that they aren't just numbers or statistics on some Government chart. That they were living, breathing people that had hopes, dreams and fears like the rest of us. Many of them from right here in Ken-Ton.
"There were so many from Kenmore and Tonawanda. There really were," Kavanagh said. "I knew five of them from the Kenmore area. There are stories with them, everyone has a story. Poor Roger Kelly, he had a
premonition that he wasn't gonna come back...and he didn't come back."
George Catalano, Tom Flannigan and John "Jack" Page were among the other village of Kenmore soldiers that didn't return.
From Buffalo to Niagara Falls, Olean to Cheektowaga. Name after name and face after young face. The book hits home.
But the book is also about healing the hurt of those left behind. People like Lillian Watson.
Now in her 80s, Mrs. Watson's husband was killed in action in 1964. Leaving her to raise their four children. On May 5, she took a bus from her home in Lockport to Forest Lawn for the sole purpose viewing the book and see her husbands notice.
She told Kavanagh that May 5 would have been their 55th wedding anniversary. Watson was the only visitor that sunny, Saturday. But in Kavanagh's eyes being there made one person happy. And that was worth it.
"It didn't matter if anybody else came. That made her day," Kavanaugh said. "She was so grateful. And you know that was great for us because we were able to be there for this one widow of a soldier who gave the ultimate. We were able to say if nobody else comes it doesn't matter. It was very, very moving."
With a total of 10 copies available for viewing, friends and family members have the option of asking
for a copy of their fallen loved ones notice.
A veteran himself, Kavanagh served as a SP/5 medic in the U.S. Army from 1967-70 and did a one year
(1968-69) tour of duty in Vietnam.
Hoping that his book helps people to heal from their own individual losses the most important message that Kavanagh is stressing now is the same one he did when the book came out-to always remember those who gave their all for their country.
"They all had dreams. They all had plans, but it wasn't to be," he said. "It goes for younger veterans of other
conflicts and future conflicts. We just can't forget the sacrifices that were made."