A Memorial to the Nation’s First Veterans
By Nick Mallard
LANCASTER -- Any discussion with Lancaster Historical Commission chair Heather Lennon would make it seem obvious that the town would be the home of a Revolutionary War monument.
After all, some 700 or so soldiers hailing from Lancaster -- which splintered into Leominster, Clinton and Bolton by the conflict’s end -- took part in the war, joining the fledgling nation’s army. And, Lennon notes, a surprising number were African-American men, nearly unheard of in militias of the time.
But until Sunday, no such monument stood in Lancaster. Fittingly on Veterans Day, that has changed.
“We had others for soldiers that served in other wars, but nothing for the Revolutionary War,” Lennon said Sunday at the Thayer Performing Arts Center. “It’s surprising that there was no monument for that war, given the town’s history.”
At long last, Worcester County’s oldest town finally has something for those who served in this nation’s first war.
The town received a grant for the monument, a large granite slab placed outside of Middle Cemetery, with a plaque “dedicated to the memory of all who served.”
“Lancaster probably furnished more Revolutionary War soldiers that any other town in Worcester County,” Lennon said, while recapping the town’s importance to that era during a presentation following the unveiling of the monument.
Town and state officials were among the 50 or so people who attended the ceremony, including state Reps. Harold Naughton and Dean Tran.
“Think about the sacrifice from those who came forward at that time and the chances they took with their lives and liberty,” Naughton said. “There was no guarantee they’d be successful. They were taking a huge gamble in the name of freedom and liberty.”
Lennon noted that the Historical Commission was thrilled to, at long last, be able to honor those who were the first to be willing to sacrifice their lives for the United States.
“This tribute is 235 years in the making,” she said.