Honoring Our 101

May 25, 2012, marked the 65th anniversary of the dedication of the Richard M. Kemper Park, a World War II memorial on the grounds of Mamaroneck High School. The Adolph Kemper family donated the Park to the Mamaroneck School District in loving memory of Lt. Richard Kemper who was killed in action in Normandy, August 6, 1944.  

During World War II, it was customary throughout America to hang Blue Star Banners in the windows of the homes of those serving in the armed forces.  It was not unusual to see banners with more than one Blue Star—one for each person in the service.  In the event an individual made the supreme sacrifice, his or her Blue Star was replaced with a Gold Star. 

There are 101 names of Gold Star honorees on the granite monument at the center of the Memorial Park.  To honor these individuals, the Larchmont Historical Society, the Mamaroneck Historical Society, American Legion Post 90 (Mamaroneck), American Legion Post 347 (Larchmont), the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Kemper Memorial Park Preservation Fund are jointly sponsoring a commemorative project. Gold star placards (9” x 15”) have been prepared to present to the relatives of each of one of these heroes and to the current residents of the homes where the 101 once lived. They are also being displayed at local memorials to the 101. The placards are designed to be placed in a window, on a wall or in the ground. 

At 155 Beach Avenue, the former home of Richard Kemper, a Gold Star placard is on display.  Angelo Mancino, the current owner, says he was very proud when he heard that his home had once been the Kemper family home. When he was contacted about the Gold Star placard project, background information about Richard Kemper and his death was included and the two Mancino boys, 12 year old Michael and 9 year old Matthew, pored over the newspaper articles and clippings. They were fascinated and interested by the story--so much so that the Mancinos decided to invite Jean Kemper Hoffman and her family to visit their home.  

“We are a very patriotic family and we treated Mrs. Hoffman like a visiting dignitary”, states Mr. Mancino. Jean was thrilled to be allowed this opportunity to see again the home where she grew up and was married. She even brought her wedding photos (one of which included the famous entertainer Eddie Cantor, who served as Best Man). The screened in porch was her father, Adolph’s, very special place and she was delighted to revisit her old bedroom, now Michael’s bedroom. 155 Beach Avenue will always hold lovely memories for her.  

Mr. Mancino would like to keep the Gold Star placard on display as long as possible. His family has great respect for those who serve in the armed forces and a distant cousin is now on his third tour in Iraq. Being participants in this project is meaningful to them all.

It is important to remember that the individuals honored at the Richard Kemper Park were our neighbors. They attended our schools and houses of worship, played in our parks, shopped in our stores and enjoyed our social events.   

As you travel around the Larchmont-Mamaroneck area, please note these tributes to “Our 101” and to our community’s history. If you are related to one of them or the current resident of a former home and are interested in displaying a Gold Star placard or if you have any questions, please contact Jan Northrup at 834-5757.

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