Now that we have entered the month of May and Memorial Day is not too far off, South Boston’s important tradition of remembering and honoring its veterans year-round becomes even more of a priority. And so, it was last Saturday as volunteers gathered at the Thomas Fitzgerald Post on East Fourth Street to take part in another tradition which honors our fallen heroes.
The making and hanging of the wreaths to be placed on the poles at the many, what are called ‘Hero Squares’ throughout the neighborhood is a labor of love for both veterans and non-veterans who are also happy and proud to take part in the tradition. The two local candidates for State Representative Matt Rusteika and David Biele also took time out of their busy schedules to come by and lend a hand in the effort.
The wreaths themselves came out perfect and are very tasteful. Wrapped in a large white ribbon with attached red, white and blue ribbons with 2 American Flags, each one was assembled with care. Once the wreaths were completed, the volunteers headed out to their assigned locations and designated hero squares to attach them to the standing poles which contained the beautiful plaques which honors and pays tribute to a specific veteran who served our country in the various branches of the military. The volunteers hung the wreaths with as much care as they had used when they assembled them as this tradition as well as the memory of the specific veteran is considered a sacred act.
For those new to the neighborhood and may not be familiar with Boston’s Hero Squares, it was a tradition that started after World War ll. Each metal plaque is affixed to a pole at a designated location. The plaque is dedicated to a specific veteran who is no longer with us. The plaques honor the fallen and those who served their country with honor. On the plaque itself is the name, rank and branch of the military in which the veteran had served, and it also gives a brief history of the veteran’s actual service and some of the actions for which he or she is being honored.
For a city square or block to be designated to a specific veteran, the family of that veteran typically makes a formal request to their Boston City Councilor who will then draft a proclamation. The planning is then completed by the Office of veteran’s Services which will then coordinate production and installation. There are more than 1200 hero squares across the city and they are at locations in every neighborhood.
Last Saturday’s making and hanging of the wreaths at the Hero Squares was a true act of patriotism by residents who make it a point to never forget those who served our country in defense of freedom and liberty. Because South Bostonians never forget their veteran heroes.