Memorial Day: For Whom The Bell Tolls in Weston
Most people know that Memorial Day is for those who lost their lives in the service of our country, while Veteran’s Day celebrates those who served in the nation’s military. If you are lucky, you don’t personally know anyone who lost their lives in service. That is the case of the Owl–while she has friends who were Reserve Officers in college and after, family members who served in the Korean War, and a family friend who served in active duty in World War II, none lost their lives in service. But of course, there are many who did, and one doesn’t have to look far.
In 2019, the Weston Historical Society took a look at the men and women of Weston who served in the “Great War”, World War I, which was marking its 100th anniversary. World War I counted 20 million deaths, with the US suffering 117,000 of those (Russia was 2.7 million!) Of the 147 men and six women from Weston who served in that war, six men died: John Blanchard, Robert Denton, Lawrence Dwight, Charles H. Fiske, 3rd, Frederick W. Henderson, and Philip Winsor. The less you think about the horrors of that war (and never ever see any of the movies about it), the happier you will be.
Of the six men who died, five were because of disease, likely influenza. Two of them were sons of “prominent families” in Weston, and many will recognize the last names at least of Charles H. Fiske 3rd and Philip Winsor. The is no chance that the Owl can write any of this better than it appears in the Bulletin so if you are unable to make the Memorial Day program today, take some time to read the stories in the Bulletin. Mr. Fiske, however, will get a little more story time here, because his name graces the small park across from Central Cemetery (the triangle between Concord Road and Boston Post Road). And then you all can say that you “know” someone who lost their life in service of the country.
Charles H. Fiske, 3rd (1896-1918) graduated from Country Day School in 1914, and then studied at Trinity College in Cambridge, England. He was admitted to the Harvard Class of 1919, and after his freshman year there, he joined as an ambulance driver and chauffeur in France and the Balkans until September 1917 when he returned to the US. He must have been craving more action as he then enlisted with the US Infantry, 77th Division, and in January 2018 sailed back to Europe. While in action, he suffered a wound to his shoulder on August 12, while fighting near Marne. He died at the Red Cross Hospital in Paris on August 24. One can imagine that those twelve days were filled sith suffering. While he was buried in France, there are markers both at Memorial Hall at Harvard and at Linwood Cemetery.
The Fiske family donated “Soldiers Field Park”, most commonly known as Fiske Park, in his honor in 1921. Ten years later, a memorial was built to Fiske at the corner of the park at Boston Post Road and Concord. You can still see it there, and now you can pay your respects knowing his story.
One of those who lost his life was the son of immigrants. one was a Canadian citizen working as a teamster in Weston at the time of his entering the service. The latter died of disease a month after entering the war. Not much of their stories is known. More is known about Philip Winsor, and it is worth a read of the Bulletin to get a glimpse of what these service men and women encountered in Europe, and at home.
Those Westonians who died in service in the Civil War, and all other active duty following, are not, for the reasons of time, covered in this post. Each has a story. Each deserves a moment of remembrance. However you choose to remember those who gave their lives for this country, do make it part of your day wherever you are today.