As we honor the brave souls who gave their lives for our country this Memorial Day, I thought it would be helpful to explain the various memorials throughout our town. Where they are and whom they honor.
I took a drive this beautiful May morning (without traffic, I may add) to photograph Bedford’s various memorials. I started at the High School and headed toward Lexington, which explains the order in which they’re listed. I encourage you to take a look for yourself.
Bedford High School, Mudge Way
There is a small grassy area that separates the parking lot and the bus drop-off driveway in front of the High School. There you will find the Fallen Heroes Memorial honoring four Bedford HS graduates Killed In Action: Robson W. Wills (US Army), Terry M. Reed (USAF) both Vietnam, and John Hart (US Army) and Travis Desiato (USMC), both Iraq conflict.
Old Burying Ground, Springs Road
This is the original Bedford cemetery, and here you will find a plaque dedicated to the 43 Bedford soldiers who fought in the American Revolution. You should take some time and wander around the Old Burying Ground and as you do, allow the names to sink in. So many street and school names that are familiar to us here in Bedford can be found in the Old Burying Ground: Bacon, Davis, Fitch, Hartwell, Lane, Page, Webber, Wilson and more. Also in the back left corner of the Old Burying Ground is a small plaque dedicated to the former slaves who fought with the Bedford Minuteman in the revolutionary war.
Bedford Common, The Great Road
At the front of the Common near the sidewalk you will find a plaque dedicated to those who served and died in World War I. Here you will also see how some of our streets got their names. One interesting thing is the four Loomis brothers who all served in the Great War.
Veterans Memorial Park, The Great Road
In this park, located across the street from the Great Road Shopping Center and to the left of the Patriot Statue, you will find the memorial stones dedicated to conflicts since WWI in which Bedford residents have fought; there are 13 memorial plaques honoring each of the 13 Bedford men Killed In Action in WWII, Vietnam, and Iraq.
American Legion, The Great Road
Just outside the front door of the American Legion Hall you will find a rock with two plaques. One plaque is dedicated to those who served in Beirut, Granada, Panama, and The Persian Gulf. The other plaque honors those who served in Korea and Vietnam. Here you’ll also find recognition of “The eight who gave their lives on an aborted hostage rescue mission in Iran 1980.” I was curious about this mention on a plaque as I have been unable to verify that any Bedford residents were involved in the rescue attempt. Bedford does have a connection to the Iranian hostage crisis. One of the 44 hostages was the former Superintendent of Bedford Schools, William F. Keough Jr, who served as Superintendent in the 1970s.
Shawsheen Cemetery, Shawsheen Road
Here you will find plaques from different wars, including one for Private Feeley who served during the Spanish-American war in 1870. As you drive towards the middle of the cemetery you will see a circle where you’ll find the Soldiers Memorial dedicated to those who fought in the Civil War. Here you’ll learn that seven Bedford residents died in that war. The VA plot graves at Shawsheen Cemetery have been decorated with flowers this year.
Springs Brook Park, Springs Road
As you walk into the park, past the gate over the little stream, you’ll come across an open area. Here is a lovely Memorial Garden dedicated to the victims of September 11, 2001. Read more about the 9/11 Memorial Garden (9/11 Memorial at Springs Brook Park, The Bedford Citizen – September 12, 2012). It is a very interesting garden, with the plantings representing different elements of the day.
John D Hart-Travis R. Desiato Memorial Bridge, Route 225 – Carlisle Road
Hart-Desiato Bridge Dedication – Remarks Shared by Joseph Desiato and Brian Hart – The Bedford Citizen – May 28, 2018
Each Memorial Day, a ceremony at The Great Road bridge over the Shawsheen River honors Navy veterans killed at sea.
I hope you will go out and see these memorials in our town. They’re very moving and really give you a chance to reflect on our past. Memorial Day is the unofficial start of summer, but beyond the cook-outs and the day off, please take a moment to reflect on the sacrifices made for us.
Thanks to Don Corey of the Bedford Historical Society, and Paul Purchia of the Patriotic Holiday Committee for help with this story.
Editor’s Note: This article is reprinted from May, 2020