NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

June 14, 2013

Those at home remembered those serving with flagpoles, honor rolls

Seventy years ago this country was well over a year involved in World War II. Men and women were leaving their families, friends, jobs and schools to fight for their country.

Back on the home front both locally and in communities across the land, neighborhoods, churches, schools and businesses had begun to erect memorials to those serving in the war.

On Flag Day in 1942 at the recently named General Douglas MacArthur Square located at High and Ashland streets, a flagpole was dedicated and a flag with 55 stars was raised in honor of the 55 men and women from the “Skunk Hollow” neighborhood. Skunk Hollow was the name fondly attached to George Meinerth’s nearby store and was called that for years by the youth of the area.

On Oct. 11, 1942, two more memorials were dedicated. In the morning at the Baptist church on Green Street, an honor roll was placed in the vestibule with the names of 24 members who had left. Later that day, a flagpole and plaque in Cushing Park were dedicated honoring residents of Ward 5 serving the country. Pauline Ayers, a leader in making this event happen, was given honor of raising the flag that day. That pole and the plaque are now located a short distance away at the Pauline Ayers Park on Congress Street. Her proud son, Ralph, has always made flags available to be flown there.

One month later, on Armistice Day, another flagpole and granite marker were dedicated. This one was located on Greenleaf Street honoring the 60 men and women from the Back Bay area then in the armed forces. Shortly after, an honor roll was placed at the site and before the war ended it contained 88 names. In the accompanying photo Mrs. Michael Murphy is shown about to raise the flag. Residents of Cherry Street, Mr. and Mrs. Murphy had four sons serving the country. I lived on Greenleaf Street at the time and can remember the day very well. In 2003 a rededication was held there and a new granite marker was placed in front of the original flagpole.

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