Hampton's 'Living Memorial'

Area Towns Join In Tribute To War Dead

Hampton Union, Thursday, May 31, 1956

FORMAL DEDICATION of the tree in Depot Square to the veterans of the Hamptons was held as a part of the Memorial Day exercises in Hampton on Wednesday, May 30, 1956. Shown unveiling the bronze marker are Merrill Blake and Janice Dalton. Miss Ruth Stimson (right) presented the tree to the town on behalf of the Garden club. [Staff Photo]
Original location of
Veterans Tree
at Depot Square.
"In Memory
Garden Club

Under leaden gray skies with occasional light Showers, residents of seacoast area towns joined with the rest of the nation yesterday in Memorial Day tribute to the dead of all wars.

Featured speaker at the services in the Hamptons' was State Senator Benjamin C. Adams of Derry who called for a return "to the faith and to the principles for which the men and women we honor today have given their lives to defend."

Hundreds of person lined the streets of Hampton to view the Memorial Day parade which paused in the center of town for a dedication ceremony of a tree in Depot square to the veterans of the Hamptons. Miss Ruth Stimson presented the tree on behalf of the Hampton Garden club which was accepted for the town by Town Manager John W. True. Miss Janice Dalton and Merrill Blake unveiled the bronze marker with Legion Post Chaplain William D. Holman offering the closing prayer.

Following the ceremony the parade rejoined and proceeded to the High Street Cemetery where the Memorial Day service was opened by prayer offered by Rev. William C. Mclnnes, Lt. Col. (USAR).

Lt. Commander Otis F. Cushman read General Order 11 which was followed by a recitation, "Abraham Lincoln Walks at Midnight," by Charles Berg of Rye, a sophomore at Hampton High school. Following a selection by the Hampton school band, Miss Deborah Bourn of Hampton gave a recitation, "We The People."

At the conclusion of Sen. Adam's remarks, Post Commander Robert S. Webber presented the wreath and the benediction was given by Rev. Walter S. Oddy.

The Hampton services were preceded by similar programs at Hampton Falls and North Hampton earlier in the day at which Sen. Adams also spoke.

In Seabrook, 179 veterans graves in Elmwood and Smithtown cemeteries were decorated Monday evening by Legionnaires Milton Gillespie, Henry Dow, Sr., Henry Yell, Floyd M. Jones, Stanley Goodrich, Gordon Dow, Dexter Gynan, Charles H. Felch, Henry Dow, Jr., and Frank L. Knowles. The graves at Wildwood cemetery were decorated Tuesday day by Howard Janvrin.

The Memorial Day parade started at the Dearborn Academy at 9 a.m. and proceeded down Lafayette road to the Smithtown cemetery where services were conducted by the Legion. Services at the World War II Memorial were conducted by the Rev. Walter P. Brockway, pastor of the Federated church, and the service at the Raymond E. Walton Memorial were led by the Rev. H. Hawthorne Benedict, pastor of the Rand Memorial church.

The parade then proceeded down Walton road, Washington street and down South Main street to the Rand church where a bean dinner was served the marchers by the Ladies Aid Society.

The parade was led by a vanguard of motorcycle police followed by the Legion colors and color guard, the firing squad, Portsmouth City Band, Legion, Legion Auxiliary, Gold Star Mothers, disabled veterans, selectmen, the Grenadiers' Drum and Bugle Corps Exeter, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, Ste. Jeanne's Drum and Bugle Corps of Lowell, school children, the Fire department and the Police department.

Harry C. Brown was parade marshal.

Hampton's 'Living Memorial'

By Liz Premo

Atlantic News, Thursday, May 23, 2002

[The following article is courtesy of the Atlantic News]

HAMPTON When local Memorial Day observances take place this year, plan to spend a quiet moment of reflection while standing before a living memorial, put in place by a local organization to honor Hampton veterans who served their community and their country.

This living memorial stands taller than many of those which have been erected at various places throughout the town. Yet., as with other objects of this nature, it quietly and humbly evokes feelings of patriotism, loyalty and remembrance.

What is this living memorial, and where, can it be found? It is an evergreen tree, planted during a Memorial Day ceremony on the green in Marelli Square in Hampton in 1956. The tree, donated by Mr. Frederick Nixon of Hampton, was selected after he visited several local nurseries before making his choice of a perfect tree to give as a gift to his community.

"He personally paid for the tree that was placed there," says Hampton Garden Club member Ruth Stimson. "It was a pretty tree." As the years went by, the evergreen — as was custom in many New England towns — was illuminated during the Christmas season. A creche was placed on the ground in front of it during the holiday season in celebration of the birth of the Christ Child. And all year long, decade after decade, the tree stood as that living memorial to honor local veterans.

The Veterans' Tree with replaced plaque
in the High Street Cemetery Memorial Section

A dedication plaque, presented courtesy of the Garden Club, was also unveiled during the 1956 ceremony by two young relatives of servicemen who served in the Korean War. It was later replaced, at the urging of Hampton resident Roland W. Paige, by a bronze plaque set into a cement slab. Both the plaque and the tree remained in their places for nearly 50 years.

In going past Marelli Square at the present time, however, it is not difficult to see that the plaque and the evergreen planted in 1956 are no longer there. A project to construct a gazebo in the downtown area made it necessary for their removal. It was decided to relocate the tree to another area in town. The plaque, which had previously been replaced at one point, was taken up along with the tree.

The tree was transported to the High Street Cemetery, where it has found its permanent home in a somewhat remote spot on the grounds of the cemetery's Roland W. Paige Memorial Section, where ceremonies are held every year. If one were to search very carefully, they would find the tree at the far southeast corner of the area, alongside a chain link fence that separates the cemetery from residential and church properties.

Standing quite a distance away from any other memorials, the tree is "not anywhere I would have placed it if I had been asked where it should go," Stimson frankly states.

Unfortunately, and for whatever reason, the bronze plaque installed in the square all those years ago never accompanied the tree during its move. Some time later, local veteran Roger Syphers took note of the plaqueless tree and, according to Stimson, "felt it should be marked." As the owner of Syphers Monument Company, he created "a very fine granite marker," says Stimson, etched with the words "In Memory of Hampton Veterans — Garden Club 1956."

Syphers made arrangements for the stone marker, funded by donations provided by the Hampton Garden Club, Stimson and Nixon, to be installed near the tree. The new marker, with its polished granite surface, can be found accompanied by one of the flag holders (provided courtesy of American Legion Post #35) that normally stand next to the graves of Hampton's veterans.

So this year, when Memorial Day and its celebrations roll around, take some time to seek out the Garden Club's memorial tree and its granite monument. Then, pause for a moment of quiet contemplation and remembrance while standing before Hampton's living memorial, dedicated to those who served their community and their country.