What a great weekend in Peabody! I hope you all saw many friends, family members, and classmates. I am a tad short on local classmates, but I did enjoy family members and many of the friends I have made during previous holiday weekends in our community.
I often wonder if you natives know how lucky you are to have grown up here. I am grateful that The Mister and I were able to raise The Daughters in this community. Some of the people I saw this weekend left Peabody shortly after high school and have made lives for themselves elsewhere. They seemed glad to be back, renewing old friendships and catching up on 10, 30, or 60 years worth of news with former classmates.
I hope they also caught up on all that is happening here and I hope they are, even now, planning to return. There is nothing quite like it.
An added attraction this past weekend was the ceremony Saturday afternoon at the library to honor the 183 soldiers from Peabody and Peabody Township who went off to Europe to fight in World War I. The observance also served as the rededication of a painting that has hung in the library since 1919 in honor of those men. It was a moving and absolutely appropriate service for this holiday.
I don’t know for sure how many people were on hand, but thanks to Virginia Skinner, many of those present were descendants of the men who fought and were named on the painting. Virginia took on the task of trying to find family members, get their stories, and invite them to Peabody for the ceremony. She was able to get in touch with descendants of 66 of the 183 soldiers named on the painting. Many of that group showed up for the ceremony.
The original purpose of the rededication ceremony was to raise funds to have the painting cleaned and restored after hanging in the library for 93 years. And I think some funds were donated to kick things into gear for the library board. However, the best part was sitting there on the library lawn as part of something that had been in the making for nearly a century! Imagine that.
I know none of the men named on that painting. I do know some of the descendants, but not a majority. However, when Larry Timm’s powerful voice spoke of “Heritage” and young Isaac Burnett read the echo response to “Flander’s Field,” I admit to a lump in my throat and tears for those men now gone. Men from this community — my community — who put it out there and fought for my right to be here enjoying Memorial Day weekend almost 100 years later.
This is a good place to be. I am glad we fly our flags in honor of our veterans and I am glad we have a Memorial Day celebration in which we name them. I am glad we care enough about a 93-year old painting from a long ago war to mount a campaign to save it. I am grateful for the chance to be part of this community and grateful for the chance to care.
— SUSAN MARSHALL