Fred Hickein wanted to make sure his heirloom muskets stayed in good hands, so the 93-year-old Oneonta resident made a major donation to the Greater Historical Society of Oneonta on Wednesday, April 21.
Hickein and his wife, Eleanor, and several of his colleagues from the Oneonta American Legion Post 259, presented GOHS with two family treasures Wednesday,: an English smooth bore rifle, circa 1800, which Hickein believes was brought to the area by an ancestor of his, Solomon Yager; and a Civil War training musket owned and used by another relative, Edward Brewer.
An Oneonta High School and Hartwick College graduate and a Navy veteran, who served in both World War II and Korea, although never overseas or at sea, Hickein said he wanted the heirlooms to be in good hands and he trusted GOHS to honor his family’s history.
“I wanted to do it before I died,” he said. “I wanted to make sure they were in a good place.”
GOHS Executive Director Marcela Micucci said the group’s history center at 181 Main St. will soon have a permanent display and it will include one or both of the musket donations.
Veterans’ organizations still have a way to go in accepting women in their ranks, Beth Akulin, commander of VFW Post 1206 in Oneonta, inset at right, said during her address at Veterans Day ceremonies at the top of Neahwa Park’s Memorial Parkway at 11-11-11 this morning. While there are 1.3 million female veterans today, she said, “I have been yelled at for parking in a veterans parking place, or because I ask for a military discount, because they assumed my husband served and not me. It is important: People need to know and recognize that women have served and done the same job as men.” she said, “Veterans come in all sizes, shapes and genders. We need to thank all of them.” Top photo, the Oneonta Vets Club honor guard – from left, American Legion Post 259 Commander Terry Harkenreader, and veterans Len Carson, Wayne Gregory, Gary Walters, Bruce Von Holtz, Bernie White and Jim Williams – carry the colors to this morning’s commemoration. (Ian Austin/AllOTSEGO.com)
Legion Commander Terry Harkenreader and Wayne Gregory, above, present a Blue Star flag to Roxanne Condon, Oneonta, in honor of her son Leaf Ericson, who is serving as a foreman in the Navy, as part of the Blue Star Ceremony. Six area families were honored this evening at Oneonta’s American Legion Post 259. Originally started in 1917, the Blue Star Ceremony presents families with children serving in a branch of the military with an honorary flag to hang in their window. The tradition fell out of fashion during the Vietnam era, but has been regaining in popularity in recent years. This is the first time the Oneonta Legion has taken part in the ceremony. Inset at right, Ericka Ericson, Kim Lindberg and Lois Proctor listen as Gregory reads the history of the Blue Star flag. (Ian Austin/AllOTSEGO.com)