New memorial to honor veterans of all conflicts

Oct 12, 2018

After years of work, a new, centralized memorial to veterans is ready for dedication.

The Veterans Memorial Grove will officially be dedicated on November 3. The grove, located on the grounds of the Dartmouth Council on Aging, is composed around a gazebo which provides people with a space for contemplation and conversation.

The gazebo is surrounded by benches memorializing each military conflict from World War I to the Global War on Terror, and a brick walking path filled with bricks in honor of veterans.

Roy Oliveira, Norman Gunderson, and Jim Tooley, along with the other members of the Dartmouth Veterans Advisory Board and other volunteers, have been working to develop the grove.

There were about 17 memorials scattered throughout the town for individual veterans and conflicts, but there was no memorial to those who served in the Korean War because no one from Dartmouth died in that conflict.

“When the town started memorializing veterans from the town that were killed in action, what they decided to do at that time was to have a bench dedicated for that veteran, and that’s why they’d put it in an area where they grew up, because that way people could see it,” said Oliveira, who is also the Dartmouth Veterans Service Officer. 

Board members wanted to make a small memorial for the veterans who served in the Korean War, and approached the Council on Aging about putting up a plaque. The former director of the Council on Aging came back with an intriguing counter-offer: Take over the Council on Aging's unused gazebo instead.

With the new, larger space, the board decided to create one memorial to honor veterans of all wars on the grounds of the Council on Aging at 628 Dartmouth Street.

The board set about fundraising through car shows, a challenge coin, and a space for residents to give a donation on their excise tax bill.

“We wanted this to be a community project, if you would, and Dartmouth residents were most generous with their donations,” Oliveira said.

The board also sold bricks which could be custom engraved.

“The bricks’ purpose is for any person in Dartmouth who wanted to honor a veteran, whether alive or deceased, it didn’t have to be from Dartmouth,” Tooley said.

The memorial is meant to be a place for everyone.

“It’s not just a spot for veterans, it’s a spot for the whole community to come and sit and reminisce, enjoy, talk, and just enjoy,” Tooley said. “We want people to at least by having it here, remember, and to a certain extent, be thankful for all of the veterans who have given up their time to serve the country. Especially the 34 that have given up their lives.”

The board and other volunteers have done most of the work themselves.

“It’s a labor of love, really, for all of us,” Gunderson said.

The Veterans Memorial Grove will be dedicated on November 3 at 10 a.m. The public is invited to attend.

The dedication is not the only Veterans Day event coming up. On November 9, the Council On Aging will host a Veterans Day breakfast for veterans. RSVP is required at the front desk of the Council on Aging or by calling (508) 999-4717.

Oliveira is the Veterans Services Officer for the town, and can help veterans, widows, and family members access state and federal benefits and services from the Department of Veterans Affairs, and can be reached by calling (508) 910-1818.

Commemorative bricks are still for sale and can be bought online through a link on the town’s website. To get a copy of the order form at Town Hall, call Oliveira.