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Peabody honors Revolutionary War heroes at Patriots’ Day ceremony

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A little more than 242 years ago, seven Peabody men (then from South Danvers) died defending their country from injustices. The city honored these men for their deeds at a solemn ceremony last Monday, held at the War Memorial on the corner of Sewall and Washington Streets. Surrounded by local dignitaries, including the mayor, veterans, Reverend Dr. Bert White and residents, their present-day counterparts fired off shots from their muskets to commemorate the occasion. Nearby, veteran commandant in the Marine Corps Steve Coddens played “Taps” from his bugle.

Calling the fallen men “saints,” Reverend White told a narrative of the first few days of the war and asked attendees to reflect on the “humiliation” and “inhuman bloodshed” of those days. He called attention to the fact that many of the fallen were “just boys” at 21 years old. He then led a prayer.

“As I look at the names on this statue, I think of the times we are in today,” Peabody Historical Society President Richard St. Pierre, who helped organize the event, remarked moments later. “We are living in some pretty dangerous times. These men who paid the ultimate sacrifice were living in dangerous times, too. I like to think that the spirit and the sacrifices they made remind of us of the ideals we have as Americans.”

“So many times our nation is tested.” said Mayor Ted Bettencourt, who paused to reflect on the occasion. “These men who sacrificed for our country, to build our country, are something special.”

Samuel Cook, 33, Benjamin Daland, 25, George Southwick, 25, Jotham Webb, 22, and Ebenezer Goldthwaite, 21, rested yards away. Jacobs, 21, is buried at the Jacobs Family Cemetery, while the locations of Putnam, 21, and Webb, 21, are unknown – although they are believed to lie in Danvers.

The group bravely descended on Lexington on April 19, 1775, to fight the British soldiers in a battle that would set off the Revolutionary War and eventually lead to American independence. Led by Colonel Pickering, the seven men were of an original 477 of local Boston-area troops that fought the British that day, which brought them through Arlington (Menotomy), Lexington and Concord; 49 were killed in the battle, with 39 wounded and 5 missing. The seven Danvers men were killed in a particularly violent skirmish at the Jason Russell house in Menotomy, when the British soldiers attacked them with bayonets.

Last Monday, they were represented by the Danvers Alarm List, a modern day adaptation of the actual “alarm list” – a regiment serving as the last line of defense, typically composed of elderly men who remained in their homes. Henry Rutkowski, Bill Clemens, Dan Cripps, Skip Wiley, Jim Driscoll and Billy Clemens represented the fallen men, dressed in authentic military uniform of the time period.

“It means everything,” said veteran of the 2nd Corps Cadets Ron Morneau of the ceremony. “[The revolutionary war] was the beginning of our freedom. Morneau is the commander of the Veterans Association; its office is at the armory in Danvers. Joined by fellow cadets Jim Sweet and Russ Bowden, Morneau said he was thankful for the sacrifices of the seven men celebrated last Monday. Looking to the future, he said that that we should be careful not to take our liberty for granted – “We must not be complacent.”

By Melanie Higgins





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