Note: This feature originally appeared on May 28, 2021.
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 on a beautiful May morning (without traffic, I may add) to photograph Bedford’s various memorials. I started at Bedford 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 Bedford 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 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 Bedford Common near the sidewalk, there is 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 group of names are the four Loomis brothers who all served in the Great War (WWI).
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 William F. Keough, Jr., who served as Superintendent of Schools in Bedford in the 1970s. Keough was later superintendent of the 4,000-student American School in Tehran, but had taken a new post in Pakistan. He had returned to the embassy in Tehran to collect student records at the time of its seizure by the militants on Nov. 4, 1979. He, along with the other 5a hostages were released in January 1981.
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, there is a circle where you’ll find the Soldiers Memorial dedicated to those who fought in the Civil War. Seven Bedford residents died in that war.
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 Sept. 11, 2001. Read more about the 9/11 Memorial Garden (9/11 Memorial at Springs Brook Park, The Bedford Citizen – Sep. 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, deceased naval veterans are honored in a brief ceremony at what is now the newly-named Barry Seidman Bridge over the Shawsheen River on The Great Road.
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 revised and reprinted from May 28, 2021.