April 17, 2024

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Cheektowaga breaks ground on new veterans park, memorial garden during Memorial Day ceremony | Local News

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After some debate over the name, veterans, community members and local representatives gathered on Memorial Day to break ground at the Veterans Park at Nob Hill and Pfc. Neil E. Bateman Veterans Memorial Garden in the town of Cheektowaga. 

Around two dozen people attended the ceremony on the warm, sunny afternoon, not only to mark the groundbreaking of the new park and garden, but to remember and honor the lives lost in battle.

The Rev. Rick Maisano led those gathered in prayer, and local veterans sang, read poetry, performed a rifle salute and played “Taps.” 

“Before we go to our picnics and our pool parties and our barbecues … take a few moments to reflect upon what this solemn day is really about,” State Rep. Monica Wallace said to the crowd gathered. “And that is to honor the lives and the memories of those who never made it home.” 

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Town councilmembers voted last May to name the park Veterans Park at Nob Hill and include a memorial garden inside the park named after Neil Bateman, a Cheektowaga native who was 20 years old when he was killed in combat on May 15, 1967, while serving in the Vietnam War.

Neil’s brother, Glenn Bateman, and other supporters wanted the entire park to be named after Neil, but councilmembers chose Veterans Park as a way to honor all local veterans. 

Construction of the park and garden will begin this summer at the existing Nob Hill Park, off Cleveland Drive. The centerpiece of the park will be a 6-foot wide, 3-foot tall memorial marker. Stone benches, a silver star engraving and a flag pole will be included. 

The Neil Bateman memorial garden will surround the park and will be filled with flowers and shrubbery. 







NeilBateman

Neil Bateman.




Neil graduated from Maryvale High School in 1966, his brother, Glenn Bateman, said. Bateman described his older brother as the “big man on campus” when he was a student at Maryvale. Neil was a popular athlete who played football and was on the wrestling team. 

After graduation, Neil joined the U.S. Army and became a paratrooper. On the day he died, he and his fellow soldiers were ambushed. Neil “charged the enemy” so the other soldiers had time to evacuate wounded troops and could take cover, Bateman said. 

Neil was awarded the Bronze Star, the Silver Star and the Purple Heart for his heroic actions that day. 







Glenn Bateman.jpg

Glenn Bateman, center, poses for a photo with state Sen. Tim Kennedy and state Rep. Monica Wallace during a groundbreaking ceremony for a new veterans park and memorial garden at Nob Hill Park in Cheektowaga. The garden will be named after Bateman’s older brother, Neil Bateman, a Cheektowaga native who died during the Vietnam War in 1967. 


Natalie Brophy



“It’s something that can go on forever and ever and ever,” Bateman said of the memorial garden names in honor of his brother. “And it means a lot because (Neil) gave a lot.”

The veterans park is expected to be nearly complete by the end of this summer, Wallace said.

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