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Independent Thoughts: Monumental accomplishment to highlight Memorial Day

by | May 17, 2023 | Featured, Featured: Features

World War II memorial

The original World War II memorial was installed on the Town Common 80 years ago.

This year’s Memorial Day ceremonies on Monday, May 29, will have a special touch with the unveiling of a granite monument honoring residents who served in World War II.

A similar memorial made of wood was installed in 1943, midway through the war, and updated with the names of those who served. Being constructed of wood, it lasted about 20 years. A piece from that memorial is saved at the Hopkinton Historical Society.

The original monument included the quote “God grants liberty only to those who love it, who are always ready to guard and defend it,” and listed the names of the residents who served.

“It had names on boards with brass screws,” explained resident historian Bill Hamilton. “That way they could add more names and put them in alphabetical order.”

Hamilton, a longtime resident and Navy veteran (who also writes the Tales from a Townie stories for the Independent), was the driving force behind the new monument.

During preparations for the town’s 300th anniversary celebration in 2015, Hamilton worked on a historical program that included pictures. He saw a photo of the wooden memorial and later discovered that his father was one of the three individuals who built it.

So, he got to work on coming up with a new memorial, with assistance from fellow longtime resident Tom McIntyre. After McIntyre died in 2017, Hamilton became “a committee of one,” researching the names, coming up with a design and navigating the process.

With encouragement and financial assistance procured by Town Manager Norman Khumalo — and following a delay due to the COVID pandemic — Hamilton completed the project and will present it this Memorial Day.

“It’s been a long time in the making,” he said. “It’s been a struggle, but I’ve had terrific support from townspeople and everyone. It should have been done a long time ago, when the other one rotted away, but people were doing other things.”

The foundation for the monument — which is 6 feet tall and 10 feet wide — was poured on May 10, next to the Town Common gazebo (about 75 feet east of where the original board stood, Hamilton said), aligned next to memorials for veterans of other wars. The memorial, which was constructed in Georgia, is scheduled for delivery May 20.

Hamilton will give a speech at the Memorial Day ceremonies before the monument is unveiled — precisely 80 years and 26 days after the original dedication, Hamilton said, and with “416 names on display for prosperity.”

Those honored include men and women who lived in Hopkinton and joined the military for World War II as residents of Hopkinton.

Hamilton noted that his father was unable to serve in World War II due to a medical issue, but he dreamed of being a cook in the Navy. Coincidentally, Hamilton has been volunteering on the USS Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. at the Battleship Cove maritime museum in Fall River for almost 30 years. His job: Navy cook.

Hopkinton Memorial Day services will start, as usual, at Evergreen Cemetery in Woodville, followed by a procession at the cemeteries off Mayhew Street. The ceremony at the Town Common (or St. John’s parish hall if it’s raining) — which will include speeches and music — will start around 11:30 a.m. and end with the raising of the flag at noon.

Local youngster wins environmental award

Congratulations to Hopkinton fourth grader Aanya Soni, who recently was named the President’s Environmental Youth Award (PEYA) winner for Region 1 in Grades K-5. Soni started a wildlife conservation project called Every Turtle Matters in an effort to protect turtles crossing roadways in town.

Soni reached out to the town’s Conversation Commission, which in 2021 partnered with the Department of Public Works to create and install turtle crossing signs in areas with notable turtle activity. The signs are posted from spring until fall, when the turtles are the most active.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency website, the PEYA program was established by the Environmental Education Act of 1970 and recognizes outstanding community-level environmental projects by K-12 youth that promote awareness of natural resources and encourages positive community involvement. Each year, PEYA honors a variety of local projects developed by students, school classes, summer camp attendees and youth organizations to promote engagement in environmental stewardship and protection.

Soni was one of 34 students from across the nation who worked as a team or individually on 15 projects to be honored with a PEYA.

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