Veterans War Memorial Tower Rededicated as National Monument
Its latest dedication found the 80-year-old tower designated as a national monument by the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission and the Pritzker Military Museum and Library.
On Thursday, groups christened the tower again as honoring soldiers from not just World War I but from all wars.
"Over the years, we have fought many more wars and the meaning of this memorial had grown to include all of the sons and daughters of Massachusetts that have served. Mount Greylock serves as a lasting symbol of sacrifice and Herculean effort," said Jennifer N. Pritzker, a founder of the centennial commission.
The 93-foot tower sits at the state's highest peak. In 1933, some 1,500 people trekked up Mount Greylock and thousands of others listened on national radio broadcasts as it was dedicated to those who died in World War I.
Last year, it was reopened after a $2.6 million restoration. The work included new ventilation systems, resealing of joints, installation of a new dehumidification system, improved access, new lights in the beacon, and a full repair of the interior finishes.
After being closed off to the public, officials cut the ribbon on the re-opened tower last July.
"Your tax dollars went into the aspect of restoration so that that memorial has a place of sense and honor that it depends upon to remember," state Secretary Veterans Services Francisco Urena.
Now it is one of 100 World War I monuments across the county to be nationally recognized. The recognition also comes with matching grants to help maintain the tower. Nearly 200,000 Massachusetts residents served in the war and 5,775 were direct casualties. Nov. 11, 2018, will mark the 100th anniversary of the war's end
Centennial Commissioner John D. Monahan said those 100 places include Soldier Field in Chicago and the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The rededication helps to sustain the monument to be a continual reminder of those who died.
"The fallen live in our minds and in our hearts," Monahan said.
As part of the ceremony, a plaque was presented and Alex Gilman of the state Department of Conservation and Recreation read the poem "In Flander's Fields."
State Sen. Adam Hinds said what is particularly important about monuments is that war has impacted every generation. He said his grandfather served in World War II, his father in Vietnam, and himself in a citizen's (diplomatic) role in Iraq.
"We've dedicated the highest point in Massachusetts for this reason," Hinds said.
Adams Selectman James Bush referred to the tower as the town's "most treasured landmark," and how the tower's image is used in multiple ways and residents always know they are home when they see it.
The tower sits at an elevation of 3,491 feet in the middle of a vast wilderness. In 1898, the state of Massachusetts created the Greylock Reservation Commission as the first state wilderness park.
"There are few places better than this that offer such incredible views on a clear day of the natural world around us. This place belongs to the people of Massachusetts," Conservation and Recreation Commissioner Leo Roy said.
Roy said Mount Greylock is an attraction for tourist and provides an array of outdoor recreation options. State Rep. John Barrett III said the mountain and the tower are "so important to the Northern Berkshire area in so many ways." And he remembers the tower beacon going off and questions about its condition. He praised the renovation and said it reflects the county's strong conviction to honor veterans.
"We honor our veterans and we hold them in very high esteem," Barrett said.
Urena said while it is important to remember the past, it is equally important to honor those presently serving.
"It is important to remember that we still have two wars, two fronts, and men and woman from Massachusetts and across the nation who are serving in combat, in harm's way," he said.
Tags: centennial, dedication, Mount Greylock, state officials, veterans, WWI,
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