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WWI monument rededicated The neighborhood memorial pays tribute to Unionville's veterans

Easton Journal - 7/6/2018

A monument to all 20 Easton residents living in the Unionville section of town who served in World War I was rededicated on July 1 at its new location next to the Unionville playground on Washington Street.

It is the only neighborhood to erect a monument like it, according to Town Historian Ed Hands. The monument previously sat in front of what was once the Unionville Elementary School about a quarter of a mile up the road.

While the school is gone the building on the grounds now houses Smiles Dental Office, a business that Scot Kudcey, chairman of the monument project, said took good care of it.

Even with that care Kudcey said the location made the monument in danger of being damaged by a car or snowplow hitting it.

More importantly, many did not realize its location and others did not know what it was about.

"Although the dental office took really good care of it the monument didn't get the respect it deserved," Kudcey said. "Now it's at a good location. People will see it and appreciate it."

Sunday's ceremony included an Honor Guard from the VFW Post 2547 led by Commander Al Smart and included a three-shot rifle volley in honor of those who served.

One of the soldiers listed on the monument, Yeoman 2nd Class Chester Rice Smith, was the only one of the 20 residents who died.

Smith enlisted in the Navy at the Boston Naval Yard in 1918, a location history now records as the first vector of the Spanish Flu in the United States, according to Hands.

"He picked up the flu as a Navy Reserve guy," Hands said. "Instead of going out on a Navy vessel, heading overseas and risking getting sunk he came home from a hospital in Boston. Everybody made it out alive except Charles Rice Smith. He's buried across the street (at the Washington Street Cemetery)."

Kudcey, a member of the Easton Lions, said the entire club supported the project along with the VFW.

He said Lori Maver of Maver Memorials, Mike Vareika of Vareika Construction and Doug Springhetti of Springhetti Masonry volunteered their services and equipment to make the move possible.

Tina Souza, a Lions member whose father was a veteran, turned out with the two dozen other people who came to pay their respects at the dedication.

"It means something to me," Souza said. "I think it's a huge cause (veterans' causes) that unfortunately is not seen as much."

World War I officially ended 100 years ago on Nov. 11, 1918 when Germany signed an armistice agreement with the Allies in France.

Death tolls were staggering with nine million soldiers dead and 21 million wounded. Germany, Russia, Austria-Hungary, France and Great Britain each lost nearly a million or more lives, according to the History Channel's website.

It said at least five million civilians also died from disease, starvation or exposure causing World War I to become known as "the war to end all wars" due to the high casualty counts.

 
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