Memorial Stadium rededicated to fallen residents
Friday night’s football game saw all the usual elements: Players breathing steam under bright lights, cheer team chants, marching band horns, and a lively crowd bundled up against the cold.
But there was also something new: A halftime dedication ceremony for the revamped Memorial Stadium that saw members of the Dartmouth Veterans Advisory Board and other town officials read out the names of townspeople fallen in war.
It was a night of celebration — for the first night game at the very end of post-season in the newly renovated stadium — as well as remembrance.
“Tonight is a very special night for Dartmouth,” said School Committee Vice Chair Chris Oliver, thanking members of the School Committee and the Select Board who helped make the project possible.
Although the facility was open all season, previous football games were held earlier in the day due to Eastern equine encephalitis concerns, which ended with the first hard frost.
Phase I of the stadium renovations cost $1.7 million and included new lighting, a new scoreboard, and a new artificial turf field, completed in September.
A $3.6 million second phase approved at Town Meeting in October will see upgrades to the stands, kitchen, bathrooms, and concessions. A new parking lot will also be built behind the stadium.
Along with the new features, officials rededicated the stadium to Dartmouth residents who gave their lives in war, unveiling a new stone memorial under the flag, which was flown at half-mast.
Chris Pereira, veteran of the Afghanistan war and Chair of the Dartmouth Veterans Advisory Board, said a few words on the history of the stadium.
“Dartmouth Memorial Stadium was built and dedicated in the 1940s after World War II,” he said. “It was dedicated to Dartmouth residents who served and were killed during the war.”
The original memorial plaque is displayed prominently at the stadium entrance.
“This evening, the memorial will stand forever as an example of our love for each other,” he noted, before reciting an invocation prayer.
Pereira continued, “No soldier, or no force on Earth, has done more for less, more for strangers, more for freedom, more for justice, more for good, than the American soldier.”
He then read the names of the Dartmouth residents who “gave their lives so that we may be free.”
The last name on the list was Peter G. Enos of South Dartmouth, who died in Iraq in 2004 at the age of 24.
His father, Dartmouth resident Gerald Enos, and local veterans service officer Matthew Brouillette unveiled the new stone memorial while band members laid a wreath at the base of the flagpole to the sound of a lone trumpeter playing taps.
The memorial reads “Dedicated to Dartmouth residents who gave their lives in service to the United States of America. We will always remember. In God we trust.”
“I’m just really honored to be part of the celebration,” said Superintendent of Schools Bonny Gifford. “It’s a wonderful, wonderful moment in the town of Dartmouth.”
“I think it went really well,” said Pereira after the ceremony. “It was great to see the emotion. You could hear some people from the stands, you could see them waving some flags...To remember our fallen heroes, that’s what really it’s all about.”