South Boston is a neighborhood that values its veterans. Highly.
In a literal sense, there were Veterans Day observances all over South Boston. The Thomas J. Fitzgerald Post (VFW, #561) made its annual march, which formed up promptly 9:30 a.m. last Friday morning, November 11. Led by pipers, this march concluded at St. Brigid Church, where a Memorial Mass for South Boston’s veterans was said. The JROTC detachment from South Boston High School also took part.
The “Fallen Heroes” memorial observance took place in the Seaport/Waterfront District that morning. Patriot Homes, the development in the old South Boston Police Station for housing needy veterans, opened and was dedicated that morning as well. The sponsoring agency of Patriot Homes is the South Boston Neighborhood Development Corporation (the SBNDC); its address is 273 D Street.
A traditional observance took place in Fort Independence. It was the ceremonial flag burning on the Parade Ground of Fort Independence, courtesy of the Castle Island Association (the CIA). At least in America, it is the custom to gather old, worn, or defaced flags together and solemnly burn them en masse. This is done with appropriate reverence and ceremony, as a gesture of respect for the national colors. Here in South Boston, that burning takes place on Veterans Day.
This ceremony has an interesting sidelight, which is actually grimly humorous in its way. Many enemies of the U.S.A. take great delight in publicly burning the American flag. What these people don’t understand is that burning of a flag is really the most courteous way to dispose of it. The aged or damaged flag ends up as a few ashes – no further defacement is possible. And therefore, the laugh’s on them. Thanks, friends.
After the participating units were posted on the Parade Ground, in front of the 25 by 40 foot, 1,000 square foot flag on the Fort’s parapet wall, John Scannell led the “Star Spangled Banner”. Sr. Florence Kahler then gave a well-spoken patriotic reading. The Sergeant-at-Arms of the Scottish-American Veterans (Bill Wolf, Commanding) lit the grate filled with flags to be burnt. A brisk northwest breeze aided the process, which was marked by a bagpipe rendition of “Amazing Grace”. After these flags turned to ash, the ceremony came to an end. The colors were struck and the units were dismissed.
REMINDER: South Boston Online is seeking stories and/or histories of all kinds from World War I, which America entered on April 6, 1917, and which ended on Armistice Day, November 11, 1918, at 11 a.m. Please get in touch with us if you would like to help. That period of history must not be lost and forgotten. We plan to write a series of historical/commemorative articles during the two years between now and the 100th Anniversary of Armistice/Veterans Day on Sunday, November 11, 2018.
Thank you in advance.