Veterans honored at dedication of new Memorial Grove
There is now a central memorial to recognize and honor all of Dartmouth’s veterans for their service and sacrifice: the Veterans Memorial Grove.
On Nov. 3, local and state leaders joined veterans to officially dedicate and open the new grove, located on the grounds of the Dartmouth Council on Aging. Nearly 200 people gathered for the ceremony, which had to be moved indoors due to rain.
The ceremony opened with an introduction by Al Oliveira, Chairman of the Dartmouth Veterans Advisory Board. The Posting of the Colors was led by Dartmouth Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9059, Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 499, New Bedford Marine Corps League Color Guard, and the Dartmouth Police Department Color Guard.
Emerson Clarke, a sophomore at Dartmouth High School, sang the National Anthem. The Dartmouth Community Band played music throughout the ceremony. Congressman Bill Keating joined the crowd to highlight the project.
“This is a special event here in part because of the way this was established,” Keating said. “I remember hearing quite some time ago the plans for this, and this was truly a town wide effort.”
The memorial includes a gazebo surrounded by benches memorializing each conflict. A brick walkway, featuring bricks purchased in honor of those who have served, lines the area. The memorial honors veterans of all conflicts, as well as prisoners of war and those missing in action.
Keating noted that the memorial honors not only those who have served and are serving the country, but those who will serve in the future.
“That memorial will help generations to come,” Keating said. “As they come by and see that gazebo, it will be a symbol of what we care about as a country.”
Roy Oliveira, the town’s Veterans Services Officer, thanked the town and the Veterans Advisory Board for the hard work to make the memorial possible.
He also acknowledged Norman Gunderson, whose observation that the town lacked a memorial for veterans of the Korean War spurred the development of the grove. Previously, a war memorial was established after a death near where the veteran lived. No Dartmouth residents were lost in the Korean War.
Joseph L. Michaud, a veteran, former Select Board member, and a former member of the Veterans Advisory Board, began his speech by thanking the veterans and families of armed forces members. He acknowledged the sacrifice veterans make on the behalf of the rest of the country. He said he was inspired to serve in part by the Gary M. Cohen Memorial Square, where he waited for the school bus each day.
“It’s a tiny fraction of our population who over the years have served in the military for the needs of our nation,” Michaud said. “Currently, there are only 1.4 million active service members, representing less than one half of one percent of our population.”
Michaud said that tiny percent of the population takes on a vast responsibility, not only to protect those in the United States, but those of people abroad, as well.
“No other nation in the history of the world, that I’m aware of, has sent people willingly and voluntarily to fight for the freedom of others,” Michaud said.
Joseph Toomey, a member of the board, read the names of each Dartmouth service member who was killed in action, and a wreath was placed to honor them and other veterans.
Reverend Rodney Thibault, the Pastor of St. Mary’s Church and an Air Force Veteran, offered a closing prayer.