Highland Falls recognizes civic service

September 17th, 2020 | Articles, Community Leisure
Army Sgt. 1st Class Josephine Pride, assigned to the U.S. Military Academy, receives the Cora L. Matthews Service Award during a ceremony Sept. 10 at Highland Falls Memorial Park. Photo by Tony Pride/USMA PAO

By Dave Conrad
Garrison West Point Public Affairs

Nearly two dozen Highland Falls community members were presented with service awards for ‘outstanding service to our community’ during an inaugural commemoration ceremony Sept. 10 at Highland Falls Memorial Park.
Highland Falls councilmember Ty King began the ceremony with a Proclamation on behalf of Town Supervisor Bob Livsey commemorating the event, declaring “…Sept. 10, 2020, Mrs. Cora Lee Matthews Day of Service, throughout the entire Town of Highlands. I encourage all town residents to discover the rich history of entrepreneurship, bridging racial divides, building meaningful relationships and service to our community, all examples found in the incredible life of Cora Matthews.”
Matthews, born in North Carolina in 1918, moved to Highland Falls and became a member of the West Point community in 1941, according to her obituary. She married Sgt. Sanders Matthews, a Buffalo Soldier, in 1942 and worked at the cadet laundry facility, opened the town’s first African American hair salon and served as a Deaconess at Ebenezer Baptist in Newburgh.
She passed away in March, and during her nearly 80 years here, inspired generations of Hudson Valley community members to serve and care for one another.
A number of awardees shared their recollection of Matthew’s impact on the community.
“My grandparents brought people from all over the community together,” Dr. Aundrea Matthews, Cora Matthews’ granddaughter said. “They loved America and Highland Falls, and wanted to live in a place where everybody was treated with dignity and respect. This ceremony was an opportunity to recognize people who know how to stand together, and lead with vision.”
“This was a beautiful ceremony,” Noah Lanier, one of the younger awardees, said.  “So many of the awardees have been a part of this community longer than I’ve been alive, and it was an honor to be recognized with them.
“She was my neighbor,” he added, “and I’m glad I got a chance to know her.”
Regional and local officials were on hand to participate in the ceremony, and make presentations, to include State Sen. James Skoufis and representatives from State Assemblyman Colin Schmitt’s office, Orange County and the Village of Highland Falls.