Bands will play and flags will wave as hundreds of people march by the library in Raynham’s Memorial Day parade on Saturday, May 27. Parades have been a traditional part of Memorial Day since the Civil War when veterans remembered their fallen comrades by decorating their graves. This Decoration Day, which came to be called Memorial Day, is a time for us to pause and remember all who have died in the service of our country, especially our native sons.
As marchers pass through the intersection of South Main and Orchard, they’ll see the plaque honoring Medal of Honor recipient, Sergeant Jared C. Monti, killed in action in Afghanistan in 2006. If they look closely, they will see a small marker atop the Orchard Street sign. On the sign is inscribed Fallen Hero along with the name, SFC Jared C. Monti, his rank, the conflict of his death, his branch of service and his age. This is the Fallen Hero commemorative that the Town of Raynham is placing at intersections around Raynham. There are ten more Fallen Hero signs in Raynham honoring those who gave their lives in Iraq, Vietnam, and World War II. The project is not complete; there are more signs to come. Overall, the number of Raynham soldiers killed in action includes 17 during the Civil War, 14 during World War II, three in Vietnam, one in Iraq and one in Afghanistan.
You will find Fallen Hero signs on the corners of Ralph Road (Corporal Brian Oliveira), Church Street (2nd Lt James B. McGarry), Michael Road (CPL Bruce E. Johnston III), Elm Street East (CPL Timothy P. Jennings), Sandy Hill (PFC Wilfred M. Cabral), Center Street (SIC Augustus C. Oliver, Jr.), King Philip Street (PFC Charles E. Cutter), White Street (SGT Thomas M. Hopkins), King Street (PFC Francis J. Murphy), and Britton Street (1st Lt Chester A. Bearse, Jr.). Each of these Fallen Hero signs commemorates a life tragically cut short – a young man killed in action in defense of our country. All were young, all were courageous, and all left family and friends.
The Fallen Hero project is the initiative of the town’s Veteran’s Memorial Committee chairman, John McGarry, whose brother, James, was killed in Vietnam in 1969. As part of the project, McGarry has written short biographies of each of the men detailing their lives, service and death. These biographies have been compiled and are now available on the Raynham History page on the library’s website, raynhampubliclibrary.org. Reading the biographies is absorbing, sobering and sometimes, startling – as in the case of Seaman Augustus Oliver, Jr., who was killed along with 350 shipmates when the ammunition ship, the USN Hood, exploded in 1944. He was only eighteen.
Our thanks to the Fallen Hero project for helping us to remember those whose sacrifice should not be forgotten.