Moultonborough Historical Society

Memorial Day in Moultonborough

Researched and Written By: Jane Rice

Each May 30th, or in more recent years, the Monday nearest to that date, Moultonborough's selectmen, members of the clergy, Moultonborough Academy Marching Band and other civic groups, plus a good turnout of the general public, meet to honor the servicemen from our town who have put their lives on the line in times of conflict, to keep our nation free from threats by foreign aggressors. The twentieth century was a time of mass conflict, and many from our town were called to serve. Their service has been recognized on an annual basis, but it has not always been this way.

Memorial Day, or Decoration Day as it was once known, for the practice of decorating the graves of the veterans, was first observed on May 5, 1866 in Waterloo, New York, and that place has been recognized by Congress as the "official" birthplace of the holiday. Gen. John A. Logan, president of the G.A.R., declared May 30th to be the day set aside to decorate with "flowers the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion." Following World War I, the day was set aside to recognize the dead of all wars.

Evidently the original Memorial Day custom which was observed following the Civil War never really became rooted in Moultonborough, as a flyer for the exercises planned for May 30, 1931 notes that "This is Moultonborough's First Memorial Program in Sixty Years". Subtract sixty from 1931, and you can see that any recognition of the day which occurred following the Civil War lasted only five years to 1871.

That "first" Memorial Day in 1931 was planned in order that the tablet, honoring those who served in "The World War," which was placed on the Library Lawn, could be recognized with due ceremony. It might be noted that the library was brand-new that year also. There was speaking by Dr. Fred Clow, Mabel Hatch, and Rev. W.E. Streeter, exercises by the schoolchildren, and a big parade. A program also has been preserved from the 1935 Memorial Day, which planned a parade including honored guests, lodges, and school children to form at the Knights of Pythias Hall, near where the Meredith Village Savings Bank now stands, march to the library for services at the memorial tablets, and return to the K of P Hall for speeches by Rev. Orman T. Headley and Mrs. Mabel Hatch, plus songs and recitations by school children and music by the Quimby School Orchestra. A tradition that has carried down to the present day was a "special treat for all the children." Even now, the town bears the expense of treating all the children who walk in the parade to ice cream at what is now "Artie's", formerly the "Hi-There" restaurant.

Currently, the parade forms at the corner of Blake Road and Route 25, and marches to the Library, with a stop at the old Town House along the way. Wreaths are laid at the tablets to honor those who served in various wars, but how many people have ever really stopped to read the writing on the tablets?

Just so we all know, the inscriptions are transcribed below. At the Town House:

ERECTED BY THE TOWN OF MOULTONBOROUGH IN HONOR OF THE MEN AND WOMEN FROM THIS TOWN WHO SERVED THEIR COUNTRY IN WORLD WAR II AND KOREA AND IN MEMORY OF THESE FOUR MEN WHO GAVE THEIR LIVES

WARREN EVERETT HUSTON (WWII)

GEORGE ORIN MAXWELL (WWII)

HORACE PHILIP OLDEN (WWII)

KENNETH CLYDE FOSS (Korea)

 

 

On the WWI and Civil War on the Library lawn:

1914 1919 WORLD WAR HONOR ROLL PRIVILEGED TO SERVE THEIR COUNTRY TOWN OF MOULTONBOROUGH, N.H. GREATER LOVE HATH NO MAN THAN THIS, THAT A MAN LAY DOWN HIS LIFE FOR HIS FRIENDS JOHN XV III

1861 1865 ERECTED BY THE CITIZENS OF THIS TOWN IN HONOR OF HER PATRIOTIC MEN WHO SERVED THEIR COUNTRY IN THE CIVIL WAR TO THE DEAD A TRIBUTE TO THE LIVING A MEMORY TO POSTERITY AN EMBLEM OF LOYALTY TO THE FLAG OF THEIR COUNTRY

1933

Since World War II ended with V-E Day on May 8, and V-J Day September 2, after the Town Meeting of 1945, it wasn't the 1946 Meeting before action could be taken to create a memorial for those who had served. A committee consisting of Mrs. Arthur B. Brown, Mrs. Harvey Moulton, and Mr. Henry Boyle were chosen. This committee organized and arranged for the semi-circular plot in front of the Town House to be graded and landscaped, and a bronze tablet placed on the lawn. They also had an Honor Roll mounted on the side of the building listing the names of all those from Moultonborough who had served in WWII.

Both were dedicated on August 25, 1946. Prayer was offered by Rev. Alice Gilman. Ernest Berry, chair of the Board of Selectmen, accepted the memorial on behalf of the town, and it was unveiled by two of the Gold Star mothers, Mrs. Huston and Mrs. Maxwell. Mrs. Styles Bridges unveiled the honor roll, and U.S. Senator Styles Bridges was the speaker. An honor guard consisting of Frank Moulton of the Marines, Robert Lamprey of the Navy, Everett Bodge of the Army and Elizabeth (Betty) Greene of the Women's Army Corps, representing the various branch's of service . The Center Harbor Town Band furnished the music and the playing of taps to concluded the ceremony. A booklet listing the war records of all who served was compiled, including details on those who gave their lives. Eighty-four names are listed on the Honor Roll, quite a large number to have come from a town with a population of 788 in 1940.

T/Sgt. Horace Philip Olden served in the Army Air Corps, enlisting prior to Pearl Harbor on November 25, 1941; he was wounded in the air over Hungary while serving as top turret gunner on a B-17 heavy bomber flying from Foggia, Italy. He died on July 28, 1944. He was decorated with the Good Conduct Medal, ETO Ribbon with one star, Air Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters, and the Purple Heart.

Sgt. Warren Everett Huston, also of the Army Air Corps, entered the service on January 10, 1941, and died in New Guinea on August 2, 1944. He received the Asiatic-Pacific Theatre Ribbon with four Bronze Stars, a Citation Device, and the American Defense Medal.

Pvt. George Orin Maxwell entered the Army on March 8, 1944, and was Killed in Action in Germany on November 24, 1944, while serving with the 90th Division. He received the Purple Heart.

The fourth name on the tablet is that of Kenneth Clyde Foss, who was killed in the Korean War. The World War II tablet was replaced with one that included the Korean War, and to add Ken Foss' name. Private First Class (PFC) Foss was listed as Missing in Action (MIA) on October 19, 1951. In December 1951, PFC Foss was declared to have been killed in action that day in October. Ken had only been in Korea four months when he was wound in the arm in September, but was treated and returned to duty.

The "World War" tablet on the library lawn includes 33 names, and six have a star next to them. Frank D. Bartlett, Patrick Cunningham, Leroy E. Dow, Harold E. Glidden, Ralph L. Mack, and John H. Moulton were all killed in the "Great War", which sadly failed in President Wilson's objective of being "the war to end all wars." It was called "The World War", because in 1931 no one knew that another such conflict would break out before the end of the decade. With a population of 783 in 1910, probably everyone in town was acquainted with one or more of these men.

Over two hundred men are associated with Moultonborough's war effort in the "War of the Rebellion", otherwise know as the Civil War, though not that many were native residents at the time. Each town was assigned a quota of soldiers to be filled, and once the young men who were willing to enlist had gone, many of those who filled Moultonborough's quota were immigrants or city residents who may have never seen our town; nevertheless, they did fight on our behalf. Some of our townsfolk were working away from home and enlisted in other regiments. Other veterans are buried here who may have belonged to other places at the time of the war. Adding it all together, Moultonborough certainly gave its fair share. More died of disease than in battle in that unhappy time, and our "boys" suffered in both ways.

Moultonborough's only casualty in the Vietnam War was Marine Captain Steven Wayne Martin, who had flown eight hundred missions with Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 362 between December 28, 1967 and October 11, 1968, when he was killed in a midair collision with another helicopter. His family received a posthumously awarded Bronze Star. There is a bronze plaque honoring Captain Martin in the old gym, now the cafeteria of the Moultonborough Central School. We do not have a tablet honoring Vietnam veterans in town at the present time, or the Gulf War for that matter.

 

NOTE:  At the March 2004 Town Meeting the voters voted for the Selectmen to appoint and oversee a Monument Committee to see how best to recognize "those who have served" with a new monument(s) who have not been so far.