TOWNSEND — Across town, 17 markers honor the lives lost by Townsend servicemen in World War I and II. Soon, one of the meeting rooms at Memorial Hall will be designated as the Gold Star Memorial Room, providing a location where all those who made the ultimate sacrifice can be honored.
The Trustees of the Soldier’s Memorials are planning to make a framed memorial for every man who gave his life. Each of the 17 frames will contain a photograph of the serviceman, a photograph of the marker and a biography.
A portion of the display should be done by Memorial Day, but “we’re not going to be able to get all 17 ready,” said self-described concerned citizen Glenn Chaple at the Feb. 26 meeting.
The markers and biographies are easy to find, but the group faces a another challenge. “It’s difficult to get pictures of everyone,” trustee Walter Mann said. Some of the servicemen are pictured in group shots, but are not always identified.
The markers are scattered across town, usually placed near the young man’s family home. “We are the only town that worries where they lived. I mean, it’s great we do,” Mann said. Two markers have been moved. One in the harbor that was hidden from sight was moved across the street. Another, near the Wheeler Road bridge, was moved when the bridge was reconstructed. The final location of the marker is closer to the man’s home.
The trustees are charged with the oversight of the condition and maintenance of the memorials in town, Mann said, “We have a program here. Adopt a marker. Supposedly we have all 17 adopted, but as (Trustee Bob Tumber) said, some are more adopted than others.” Some are taken care of by neighbors; others have been adopted by family and friends.
The memorials are out in the open and usually quite visible. The marker near the Wheeler Road bridge was struck twice by cars before it was moved. Another had to be replaced because the top of the sign was stolen.
A Civil War Memorial, with its own trust fund, is located on the common. Tumber would like to add stones for each man killed in action and a flower garden. “I went down to the (Cemetery and Parks Department) meeting. It fell on deaf ears,” he said.
The memorial projects must be funded. The trustees have about $1,800 in their account, Mann said. If they needed to, they could use some of this money to fund the work in the Gold Star Memorial Room. The cost for each frame would likely be between $25 and $30, Chaple said.
Another source of money might be the M. C. MacEarchern Memorial Fund. After the purchase of a clock for Memorial Hall, about $4,000 remains. The fund was set up after the former town clerk Marilyn MacEarchern died. She was at Pearl Harbor when it was attacked by the Japanese, Tumber said and her children would likely approve using some of the fund for a veterans’ memorial.
Usually it is simple to find out who should be honored with a marker. Since World War II, only one serviceman has been killed in action. The family decided against a marker since they only lived in town a short time and have since left, Mann said.
Trustee Pete Buxton has come across a mystery though. According to his research, Pvt. Earl R. Maxwell of the 23rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Division, died on Nov. 2, 1918 and is buried in Romagne, France. He entered the service from New Hampshire but his home city of record is listed as Townsend. Buxton has found no town records of him. Maxwell does not have a marker.