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Editorial: On city war memorial, missing names

Important names are missing from the monument outside the State House plaza that lists 92 Concord residents who gave their lives for our country. While it is late in the planning for the Main Street renovation project, perhaps it is not too late to consider rectifying this gap through that multi-million-dollar effort.

The monument stands to the right of the grand arch that frames the walk leading from Main Street to the State House steps. It was dedicated on Veterans Day in 1953, and it bears the names of 69 Concord soldiers, sailors and airmen who died during World War II. They are arrayed alphabetically, from Everett P. Abar to William Wong.

Seven war dead from the Korean Conflict and 16 from Vietnam are named on the monument, too. There are no names from Iraq and Afghanistan; though several servicemen from neighboring communities have died in those conflicts, none came from Concord itself.

Missing, however, are the names of Concord residents who died in the nation’s earlier wars – beginning with the Revolutionary War and encompassing two especially costly struggles, the Civil War and World War I. These unnamed men and women also died in service to the country. Surely their sacrifices are as important to honor as any others.

The State House plaza is a fitting place to do this, because of its prominence, because it is already a square of memorials – and because there is space for more. The arch at the main plaza entrance is, in fact, a city war memorial, dedicated in 1892 as the Civil War generation began to pass from life. It bears no names, though on its flanks, front and back, are blank panels that would provide ample space to add them. The two long stone steps rising from the sidewalk to the existing war dead monument also provide space to work with, as does the broad sidewalk itself.

How many names would need to be added, we cannot say – though this is a question that research can answer. Inside the State House is a memorial, called the Roll of Honor, that lists the 697 New Hampshire dead from World War I. Inside the State House as well hangs the portrait of Edward E. Sturtevant, a Concord night constable who became the state’s first Civil War volunteer – and, in time, one of about 3,000 New Hampshire man to perish in that conflict. Sturtevant died at the battle of Fredericksburg, and his body was not recovered.

Names alone, of course, cannot begin to capture the stories of those who died in war, and it is those stories that really drive home the tragedy embodied in so many lost lives. The names are, in a sense, the least we can remember – but remember them we should.

Plans for the Main Street project call for a water fountain on the sidewalk between the monument and the street – a feature intended to attract families and thus attention to the area. Perhaps the juxtaposition of children at play against a backdrop listing all of Concord’s war dead would motivate the living, now and into the future, to ensure that no more names need ever be added to the stone.

I would like to see the US flag fly at half-mast every day a soldier dies from combat. Let the public see every day that the US is giving lives. Why do we fly the flag at half-mast for the politicians that send them to war, but not pay the fallen soldier the same respect.

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