The words “Honor, Courage, Commitment” engraved in granite highlight the personal qualities that US Marine Terrence C. Graves embodied. A biography and the text of his Medal of Honor citation flank Graves’ photo on the memorial. Photo provided by Rosemarie Tucker.
by Rosemarie Tucker
The Terrence C. Graves Memorial is a black granite monument located on Main Street in the Village of Groton, New York. The small, park-like area includes benches and three flag poles flying the US flag, the POW flag, and the flag of the US Marines.
This memorial was dedicated on July 7, 2001, with over 1,500 people attending, including many military dignitaries; New York state assembly members; US congress members; veterans of many wars; village, town, and school officials; and hundreds of community members. Main Street was blocked off to traffic. Weeks before this special day, village businesses along Main Street and other streets entering the Village of Groton had spruced up their storefronts. A fresh coat of paint brightened village homes, and lawns were carefully trimmed.
Terrence C. Graves (aka Terry) was born July 6, 1945 in Corpus Christi, Texas, where his father served as a naval flight instructor during World War II. Terry was the first of four children born to Leslie and Marjorie Graves. His younger siblings are Eric, Kathy, and Debbie. Debbie passed away at an early age.
After completing his military service Leslie moved his family to central New York, where he began teaching and became a public school administrator. Many in Groton remember Les Graves as the superintendent of Groton Central School District from 1963 to 1983.
Terry attended college in Ohio and spent his holidays and summers in Groton coaching Groton Little League teams. Terry’s personal qualities and leadership abilities were also recognized by the instructors and the commandant of the NROTC program. This led to his eventual appointment as a battalion commander. Upon graduating from college in 1967, Terry chose to be commissioned as a second lieutenant in the US Marine Corps and within six months was ordered to South Vietnam for service with the Third Recon Battalion of the Third Marine Division. On February 16, 1968, two months after his arrival in South Vietnam, Terry heroically gave his life to save the wounded members of his team and, in so doing, earned this nation’s highest military decoration, the Medal of Honor.
This memorial is a tribute to incredible acts of heroism and gallantry under the most horrific conditions and is a celebration of Terry’s life and the high ideals he came to represent. It symbolizes what a small community can do together to remember a deserving member of the community, Second Lieutenant Terrence C. Graves.
Awards and a scholarship are annually given out at the Groton Middle School and to a graduating senior in memory of Terry. Terry is buried in Hamilton, New York.
A Bachelor Officers Quarter’s building at the Marine Corps Base Quantico in Virginia was dedicated to the memory of Terrence C. Graves in 1973. His name is engraved on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall in Washington, D.C.
Rosemarie Tucker has lived in Groton for most of her life and graduated from Groton Central School in 1966. She has been the historian for the Town of Groton since January 2001. Having retired from the City of Ithaca’s Department of Planning & Development in 2007, Rosemarie has been able to devote full time to her responsibilities as Groton’s Historian.
Rosemarie has given talks to students at Groton Elementary School; members of the Groton Rotary Club; historians of the Upstate History Alliance, Conference on New York State History, Daughters of the American Revolution, and the Groton Columbian Club (of which she is a member). In 2006 she was the keynote speaker for the 175th Anniversary of Ithaca’s Tornado Hook & Ladder Company 3 and at the Rededication Ceremony of Groton’s Civil War Cannon. She has provided photographs and articles for The Groton Independent and The Ithaca Journal.
As a member of the Municipal Historians of Tompkins County, Rosemarie wrote the chapter on the Town of Groton for Place Names of Tompkins County, published by the Tompkins County Historian’s Office in 2004; wrote and published the 2007 tourism brochure; “Touring the Towns of Tompkins County: Destination Groton”. She scanned all the pictures, submitted pictures and captions, and co-edited the 2009 book, Tompkins County New York: Images of Work and Play. In November 2009 her book, Images of America: Groton, hit the bookstores, just in time for Christmas sales. In 2011 as Town Historian, she guided the Groton Rotary Club to restore the historical markers in Groton. There are many other presentations and talks that she has done but are too numerous to mention. She has been a member of the Chief Taughannock Chapter, National Society of Daughters of the American Revolution, since February 2011 and is currently serving as the Chapter Regent. She is the Chairperson of the Americanism Committee for the New York State Organization of DAR and has participated in Tompkins County naturalization ceremonies by handing out US flag lapel pins to naturalized citizens.
Rosemarie has been a member of the Association of Public Historians of New York State (APHNYS) since 2000, APHNYS secretary from 2006 thru 2010, and 1st Vice President since 2011. She became the President of APHNYS as of November 1, 2016. She is also the Coordinator of APHNYS Region 10, which covers Broome, Chemung, Chenango, Schuyler, Tioga, and Tompkins counties. At the 2016 APHNYS Conference Rosemarie received her Registered Historians Certificate, the first and only historian in Tompkins County to receive this distinction.
With the Tompkins County and Town of Groton bicentennials coming up in 2017, Rosemarie is a member of the Tompkins County Bicentennial Commemorative Commission and the Town of Groton Bicentennial Committee.
Rosemarie responds to many phone calls, emails, and letters from those researching their family connections to Groton, New York. She has been involved in researching her own family and local history since 1975.
The Terrence C. Graves Memorial Dedication Ceremony Program, July 7, 2001.
“A Son Lost, But Not Forgotten: 1,500 Salute Graves;” Ithaca Journal, July 9, 2001.