Look up: at many intersections of Salem streets, intensively but not exclusively in the center of the city, you will see bright black and gold markers with the names of veterans who sacrificed their lives in twentieth-century wars. I really don’t remember focusing on these plaques until late last spring, when all of the faded markers were replaced with new and shiny ones: just in time for Memorial Day, as I recall. Then suddenly they were very conspicuous to me–and hopefully to others. The markers are placed adjacent to the soldiers’ neighborhoods, so you can also ascertain the various ethnic neighborhoods of Salem in the last century, now not quite as distinct. They are as detailed as possible: name, rank, service, conflict, exact date and place of death: I immediately noticed how many young men died in the closing months of the Great War, just before Armistice Day.
Squares of service in Salem, beginning with that dedicated to Private George C. Trask at the beginning of Chestnut Street. Nichols Square at Federal Street is dedicated to Captain Henry C. Nichols, who served in both world wars and Korea and was a “man about town” (and also the author of a popular little pamphlet titled Bewitched in Historic Salem). The distinct red marker designates veteran firefighter Raymond McSwiggin, killed in the line of duty in 1982. You can see a map of all of Salem’s Veterans’ Squares here: https://www.mapsonline.net/salemma/index.html.
November 11th, 2016 at 8:56 am
Nichols was my favorite. Man about town. Such laconic poetry.
Thinking of you these days, Matt
November 11th, 2016 at 8:59 am
I love that one too; I find the details on all of them very poignant. Thanks, Matt.
November 11th, 2016 at 8:01 pm
An important way of recalling young men who died 100 years ago. I only hope that there are grandchildren or great grandchildren alive who can appreciate their ancestors’ sacrifice.
November 14th, 2016 at 6:06 pm
Historical markers around my home town were one of the ways my siblings and I first encountered history. And since our family had married into one of the town’s old families in the early 19th century, we were actually related to most of the people mentioned on the markers!
Here in Cambridge, we live on a street named for a local fellow who died in WWII. For years, the marker at the corner had his name misspelled wrong on one side. 🙁
August 21st, 2017 at 11:50 am
[…] echo of past ethnic neighborhoods are the named Veterans’ Squares scattered throughout the city, commemorating veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice in […]