His home long gone, Uncle Sam's memory lives on

September 13, 2018 12:38 PM

TROY – Patrick Hogan really didn’t expect the camera to be there when he pulled up to the gravesite of Sam Wilson. Nevertheless, he got out of his car, quietly walked up to the ground at Oakwood Cemetery and placed a small flag in the ground – for Uncle Sam.

“Just a small measure of respect and honor just to remember, we need to remember our past and this was my small way of just of coming here and paying respect to Uncle Sam Wilson,” said Hogan, retired from the State Police and Marine Corps.

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Hogan recalls a time he was in Lebanon and then to Greece when he told someone he was from the hometown of Uncle Sam.

“And she started asking me questions,” he recalled. “She was captivated by the story of the fact that Uncle Sam was a living, breathing real person that was Sam Wilson.

“Uncle Sam put U.S. on the meat in the War of 1812 and we got our meat from Uncle Sam and the rest is history."

So at the gravesite on Thursday, the Veterans of Lansingburgh will host the 60th annual service to commemorate the 252nd birthday of Uncle Sam.

In late 1957, Congressman Dean Taylor called a handful of WWI and WWII veterans to his office to form a committee named Veterans for Uncle Sam. The mission was to raise awareness, money, and to lobby Congress for recognition. After several trips to Washington and congressional testimonies by committee members, local congressmen, historians, and then Troy's Mayor Neil Kelleher, the mission was successful.  On September 15, 1961, the 87th U.S. Congress passed a resolution proclaiming Sam Wilson, of Troy, NY, as the progenitor of Uncle Sam; it was then signed by President John F. Kennedy. In 1989, President George H.W. Bush designated September 13 “Uncle Sam Day.”

Troy held a parade in his honor for more than 40 years but it ended three years ago due to lack of city funds.


WNYT Staff

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