Each year during the annual observance of Memorial Day, parades and a variety of ceremonies mark the day in reverent remembrance.
The lives and deeds of our war veterans have also been commemorated in many monuments and memorials to remember those making the supreme sacrifice.
Nearly every community has their own World War II monument. Some of them are located on the town common, amidst other war memorials. In addition, towns have designated squares or other remembrances for their war heroes.
This is the final segment of the series Remembering Local World War II Heroes.
There are two separate monuments in the city commemorating veterans of World War II, with the first an Honor Roll which stands outside the Annunciation Parish Church on Nichols Street.
The large brick memorial bears the names of 833 soldiers of French-Canadian descent who served in that war, and was erected from funds contributed by parishioners. It was dedicated and presented on July 4, 1944 to then-pastor A. Henry Powers.
The monument was unveiled by Mrs. Amelia Goguen, the widow of Allen J. Goguen who had designed the memorial and was in charge of its construction. He died less than a month before the dedication of a sudden illness.It would be another seven years before the World War II memorial was dedicated in the space between the Post Office building and City Hall, bearing the names of the 101 soldiers from Gardner who lost their lives in that war. That monument was officially presented to the city on May 31, 1951 during Memorial Day ceremonies.
In addition, the annual Memorial Day golf tournament at the Gardner Municipal Course is named in honor of Richard and Donald Delay, who died in the same Army bomber crash in 1942. Ironically, Donald Delay scored the first hole in one at the Gardner course in 1940.
A five-foot-tall granite and brass monument in front of Ashburnham Town Hall contains 353 names of Ashburnham residents who served in the armed forces during World War II. In addition, stars denote the 13 casualties from the town.
It was dedicated on Nov. 16, 1998 with some 50 individuals who were named on the monument in attendance for the ceremony.
According to the late Ferdinand “Fred” Sweeney, who was chairman of the monument committee at the time, ”There were only about a thousand people living in town back then, so the names represent about a third of the population.”
The project was sponsored by the town’s American Legion post, named for Sweeney's son, Thomas P. Sweeney, who was killed in Vietnam. Sweeney was past commander of the post.
Fire Chief Paul J. Zbikowski served as the master of ceremonies at the dedication.
An oblong monument with the insignia of the four branches of service is located on Barre Common and lists all the citizens who served in World War II and the Korean Conflict. The memorial was dedicated in 1963 and has stars denoting the 17 casualties from town.
Several squares in the area of South Barre and Barre Plains honor soldiers from those sections of town killed in the war. In addition, plans are being made to dedicate a bridge to the five members of the Brown family who served, including Martin V. Brown, who died in the war.
For many years, Hubbardston had a crude wooden World War II memorial in front of the Center School, featuring names of each war veteran engraved on brass plates. Over time, the plates would often slip and fall down. When a large tree limb fell on the monument during a winter storm in the 1970s, it was damaged and removed. However, the name slates survived.
Sometime in the mid-1990s, Dorothy Suojanen – whose brother Lyman Woodward was killed in World War II – and her neighbor Betty Bumpus decided it was time to erect a new monument. They formed a committee which also included Charles Clark, Susan Flagg, Oiva Rivers and Sidney White, while Dennis O’Donnell represented the selectmen.
The new granite monument included a bronze plaque with the names of 169 individuals who were residents of town when they entered the service, with a star designating those who were casualties of the war.
The monument was bought with a combination of town funds and individual donations, including $5,000 from one anonymous donor.
The dedication of the Hubbardston memorial took place on Oct. 6, 1996.
The town of Templeton has separate monuments located in the four different villages with each displaying a large bronze plaque encased in a stone grotto. The markers contain the names of each of the soldiers from that precinct who served in the war, with stars designating those claimed during that war.
Monuments are located in Baldwinville, East Templeton, Otter River and Templeton Center.
Each of the eight soldiers from the town of Westminster killed in World War II are honored in the community with a square dedicated in their name. In nearly each instance, the square is located in close proximity to the home of each individual. The profiled stories which ran earlier in the series indicated where each square is located.
The World War II Honor Roll located at the intersection of Front and Pleasant Streets in Winchendon reads that it was, “Erected in Honor of the Men & Women of Winchendon who served in the Armed Forces of the United States in WWII.”
It also includes the following quotation:
"With confidence in our armed forces, with the unbounding determination of our people, we will gain the inevitable triumph, so help us God. FDR December 8, 1941.”
The back side of the marker lists the names of the 26 soldiers from the town who lost their lives in the war, including the date and location of their deaths.
It is the newest of the area World War II memorials, erected in 2002.
These memorials etched in granite and proudly inhabiting space in their communities will long endure so that the sacrifices of these men for our freedom shall never be in vain.
This is the 104th and final segment of the series Remembering Local World War II Heroes, which began exactly one year ago on Dec. 4, 2021 and has run twice weekly in this newspaper.
Just like in previous series published in this newspaper and written about local soldiers who died in Vietnam, Korea and World War I, my hope is to one day chronicle all of these stories into a book similar to the local publications “Gardner in World War 2” by Col. Tom Flynn and Cyrille LeBlanc, and Mary Moreau’s “Greater Gardner in the Korean War.”
I hope that if there would be enough interest in these stories, perhaps local veterans groups like the American Legion or the VFW may think it worthy enough to help finance some of the costs for the printing and publishing of such a book.
Finally, my heartfelt thanks and sincere appreciation go out to the family members, friends and acquaintances of these fallen soldiers who assisted with this project. The book “Gardner in World War 2,” mentioned earlier, was also a valuable and indispensable resource.
I am also grateful to Mark Landry, the veteran’s graves officer as well as a member of the town’s veteran’s committee for the Westminster Historical Society, who provided a good deal of information to help complete the columns profiling soldiers from that town.
Hubbardston historian Jane McCauley and Joyce Green were very helpful with information from their town, as were Barre historian Lucy Allen and veteran’s representative Dennis Fleming.
Past issues of The Gardner News, The Barre Gazette and the Winchendon Courier were also helpful in providing needed information to complete the soldier profiles.
It has been an honor for me to bring the stories of these heroes to life so that their supreme sacrifices may never be forgotten.
Comments and suggestions for Remembering Local World War II Heroes can be sent to Mike Richard at firstname.lastname@example.org or in writing to Mike Richard, 92 Boardley Road, Sandwich, MA 02563.
This article originally appeared on Gardner News: Remembering Local World War II Heroes: Final chapter, the monuments