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Jewelers Unveil Clock for Vets in White Plains

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- The Wilson family unveiled a clock they donated in place of the damaged "Millennium Countdown Clock" by the County Center Friday. The clock, which stands near trees planted for World War I servicemen 90 years ago, includes an inscription honoring local veterans that was revealed in time to welcome home a new generation of American servicemen.

"The clock was actually put up last week on Pearl Harbor Day, and that was a pure coincidence. The other coincidence was the Iraqi war coming to an end as of yesterday," said Michael Wilson, who runs Wilson & Son Jewelers with his brother Matthew Wilson. "We decided to honor the veterans of the past, present and future of Westchester County who have sacrificed so much to provide us with the freedoms, liberties and way of life we enjoy and quite often take for granted."

The Wilson family joined County Executive Robert Astorino and Assemblyman Robert Castelli (R-Goldens Bridge) in dedicating the clock their family spent approximately $30,000 designing and constructing.

Astorino, a Republican, said the green and gold clock tower was a "testament to the fact that all good things do take some time."

"After the 2008 incident where the clock was destroyed, Wilson and Son Jewelers stepped forward and they asked if they could design and pay for a new clock and we were quick to say yes," Astorino said of a car accident that ruined the former clock in July 2008. "We are certainly thankful for them today."

Michael Wilson said he grew sick of looking at the "twisted metal" that remained of the clock after the accident while driving to the Scarsdale jewelry store. Michael, whose great-grandfather opened the family's first jewelry store in Washington Heights in 1905 and opened an additional shop in Westchester in 1926, said his family wanted to find a more tasteful replacement for the clock.

"The County Center is a classic, old, art deco design and this [old] clock didn't match whatsoever. We felt that this clock here matches the County Center both in design and in color," said Michael, who added a Mount Kisco location to the Scarsdale jewelry shop with his brother's help in 2006.

Matthew Wilson said he hopes the inscription on the clock will serve as a "permanent reminder that freedom is not free," which was a thought echoed in Castelli's speech.

"On behalf of all of our veterans, it is prophetic that they are coming home from Iraq," said Castelli, who served in the Vietnam War. "We thank them for their service and we thank you for what you have done in their recognition."

White Plains has applied for a federal grant to help fund a veteran's memorial park on Tarrytown Road near where the clock stands.

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