Dracut, MA HS student leads effort to revitalize WWI monument in Hovey Square

By Rebecca Duda
via the Lowell Sun newspaper (MA) web site

Dracut is a small town, but it is not lacking on volunteers.

From the Dracut Scholarship Foundation to Old Home Day, the people of Dracut always come together for a good cause. Recently, I learned of a new volunteer project underway in town and it is being organized by Dracut High School student Richard Silvio. Silvio is founder and president of the World War I Rededication Committee.

richard silvioRichard SilvioDracut’s World War I memorial is located in the heart of Hovey Square, named for the old Hovey house and tavern which once stood where Hannaford Supermarket now is located. While the square had long been a busy thoroughfare for travelers, in 1925 it was the site of a dedication ceremony to honor the Dracut men who served in the Great War.

A group of volunteers led by Warren Fox organized a committee to commission a memorial to honor the 160 men from Dracut who served from 1917-1919. The massive granite monument was unveiled on Saturday, May 30, 1925 — Memorial Day — at a ceremony the Lowell Sun described as, “inspiring and impressive.” Those in attendance and seated near the speakers’ platform included Gold Star mothers, veterans from the Spanish-American War, World War I, and Boy and Girl Scouts.

With the passage of time, that generation of volunteers has passed and the memorial they unveiled has stood silently in the middle of the bustle of Hovey Square. Today the bronze plaque is weathered and the granite needs to be washed down to bring it back to its former grandeur. That is where Silvio and the World War I Rededication Committee comes in. Their goal is to restore the memorial and to also educate the public on Dracut’s efforts during World War I.

So, how did a Dracut High School student become the leader of this volunteer effort? He credited his fourth-grade teacher, Mrs. Boucher, with piquing his interest in the early 20th century. He told me she taught the class about the sinking of the Titanic in 1912 and ever since he has been fascinated by this time period. Later on, he became interested in World War I. An avid reader, Silvio has read up on the Battle of Verdun and recently read “The Last of the Doughboys.”

Like all students I’ve encountered, Silvio enjoys connecting local history with larger global events. As he was reading John Pendergast’s book, “Dracut,” he discovered Dracut’s connection to World War I and the memorial in Hovey Square. He then paid a visit to park to see the 1925 memorial firsthand.

After visiting the memorial, he was saddened to see that it had been forgotten, much like the war itself, and felt it needed to be restored. That is when he sprang into action. He reached out to his television mentor, John Zimini who put him in touch with John Dyer from the American Legion, John Cuddy from the Boy Scouts, and Jeff Hollett, the veterans’ agent for the town. Through Silvio’s efforts, Hudson Monuments has agreed to donate the chemicals to properly clean the stone, the Fire Department has agreed to unlock the fire hydrant so the monument can be power-washed, and the Dracut Garden Club has agreed to help plant new flowers and shrubs.

Silvio hopes to also add some benches and some historical signs explaining the history of the memorial. The goal is to restore the memorial and the park and have a rededication ceremony on July 4. 

Read the entire article on the Lowell Sun web site here:


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