Wednesday, August 7, 2013

"From These Honored Dead ..."

 Area behind car will become final resting place for six Civil War tablets

The ground in front of Amherst Town Hall will go from simply historic to hallowed as a Request For Proposals has been issued to display the six "Sacred Dead" Civil War tablets commemorating all 300 or so Amherst men who served in that decimating conflict.

The Grand Army of the Republic donated the tablets to Amherst in 1893.

List of 57 Amherst men who died to preserve the Union

For many years they were displayed in Town Hall but then in the early 1960s during a renovation project they were placed in storage and forgotten until just before 9/11.

As with so many things in life it took the efforts of one concernced citizen, Dudley Bridges, a proud, black, WW2 veteran, to spark a movement to restore the tablets to a place of honor.  Unfortunatley Mr. Bridges died in 2004 at age 80 and is now buried in historic West Cemetary.

According to Planning Director Jonathan Tucker:

 "The RFP asks the Consultant chosen to work with the Town to: 1) create designs for the site, the display enclosures, signs and interpretive materials, and lighting, 2) take the designs to bid specifications, 3) develop a method for safely transporting and installing the tablets, and 4) develop cost estimates for the whole shebang." 

Town Manager John Musante had envisioned them being installed in the Town Room, our seat of government, where the Select Board and other important committees meet. But the tablets are too heavy for the floor and would require expensive reinforement.

The location outside the building gives the tablets much greater visibility at all hours of day, 365 days a year. Even more fitting, that ground was once the location of a WW2 "Roll Of Honor" structure erected during that tumultious time in our history. 

Roll of Honor outside Amherst Town Hall 1942 Lincoln Barnes photo

I'm sure Dudley James Bridges would approve.  Hoo-Ah!

A patriotic Town Hall, September 1942


Anonymous said...

Gotta love the bunting on Town Hall.

Larry Kelley said...

Unusual sight for sure.

Anonymous said...

You'll never see that type of patriotism again in Amherst. the civil war veterans would be proud the town has finally hung the list back up, and ashamed the town has become the laughing stock of the pioneer valley.

Anonymous said...

Great stuff for such an important remembrance! The initial request for the display reminds me of a very humbling and proud moment in my life when I first saw our Charters of Freedom, especially the Declaration of Independence, at the National Archives in our nation’s capital. While severely faded, I could still read “… when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.” If we recognize that something is wrong, and have the ability to change it, we have the responsibility to do so. This is the ideology that our nation was founded upon and one that is practiced at great length in Amherst. But all too often the human costs which afford its citizens the freedoms and privileges to work toward what they think is right without tyranny, are forgotten and disrespected. My hope is that this project moves swiftly and with respect. It stands, like any other form of patriotism in Amherst, in danger of being severely delayed or even sidelined by the hypocrisy that has so inundated this town. Idiosyncrasies of Amherst aside, it is a good town, and its residents have every opportunity to live happy, wholesome lives. This display will help Amherst respectfully remember and pay tribute to those that were part of providing and protecting those opportunities.