Charles “Charlie” Smith and Cornelius “Neil” Hendrickson look at the new World War II monument at the Keene Veteran’s Park, listing the names of 247 men from Keene who served their country during the conflict.
Charles “Charlie” Smith and Cornelius “Neil” Hendrickson looked at the names now attached to a granite block in the Keene Veteran’s Park.
“About time,” Smith said.
“Yeah,” agreed Hendrickson.
For the pair of World War II veterans — Smith, a founding member of the Army’s 10th Mountain Division, and Hendrickson, who served in the Pacific Theater as a member of the Navy — the dedication of the new WWII wall at the park on Veteran’s Day, Nov. 11, was something they had looked forward to.
“It is a great honor,” said Smith, who was one of the first in town to suggest a symbol to honor veterans. “I am glad that I got to see something like this take shape before something happened to myself.”
“It’s great,” Hendrickson said. “I am happy people were able to get this done.”
In all, the names of 247 men who had lived in Keene and served in WWII are etched on the wall.
“I knew about all of them,” Smith said. “There were even some that were not on the list the Legion had that I remembered.”
The American Legion Marcy Post 1312 held the ceremony, which also included the dedication of a bench next to the wall in honor of Smith’s wife and daughter, Roberta and Karen Smith.
“Charlie, Almeda Senecal, Paul Martin and Larry House came up with an idea to do something like this in the 1990’s. but the town did not have a place for it at that time,” Post Commander Tom Both said. “When the town swapped land with the state to create the Veteran’s Park, this was a great spot.”
The WWII wall is just one part of the plans in place for the Park.
“When the park is finished, we will have a monument for each of the wars, including a wall for those who served during the Cold War era,” Both said. “We will also continue to add benches and areas where people can come in, look at the names and reflect.”
“This monument marks the physical mid-point of the Memory Walk path,” Paul Martin said to those in attendance. “The other wars, from the Revolutionary War to Afghanistan, will also be commemorated. From here, we have to continue to raise funds to do that and this is where we can all get involved.”
“This started back when my daughters were in Girl Scouts and we would have spaghetti and lasagna dinners for the vets,” Beth Pelkey said. “We came up with the idea of the Memory Walk to show, through time, those who have served from Keene. We are hoping that the pathway ends with the most recent conflict, but we know that those are high hopes.”
The Keene Veteran’s Park is located next to the Keene Cemetery, with access off of Route 9N (Baxter Mountain Road).