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Holliston Veterans Then and Now

by Bobby Blair
May 23, 2018

As we approach Memorial Day 2018 the HollistonReporter.com looks back at Holliston veterans. Below, members of Post 6 GAR (Grand Army of the Republic) pose in front of their new building, the first in the state owned and occupied by civil war veterans built in 1878. The post was chartered on March 8th 1867. The building was located on Green Street and moved to Exchange Street at the turn of the century. The building was occupied by the Son of Vets and later by the American Legion who sold the building in 1999 to a veteranian.

Below, members of Post 6 GAR lined up in front of the present day Santander Bank in what is presumed to be an early Memorial Day Parade. While faded and sometimes torn, early photographs can give the viewer a glimpse into our past. The only known person in the photo is second from the right, Patrick Finn, whose relatives still live in town.

Below local WWI veterans march through the town center during their Welcome Home Celebration in 1919.

It would not take long before tensions arose between the civil war veterans who had dominated the veteran political scene for over fifty years and the newly minted WWI veterans. Local lore says that in the early 20's the WWI veterans were assigned to a position behind the youth scouts in the Annual Memorial Day Parade. Being denied a place of respect in the parade, the doughboys promptly decided to hold their own parade and observances, marking the first time the town held two Memorial Day parades.

The American Legion parades its colors past Central Fire Station and Central Garage in the early 1960's. Front L to R, George Mantell, Alfie Turner, Warren Bresnahan and Jimmy Blair.

The VFW Firing Squad parades through the square. Squad leader front left George Archambauld, and drummer Arthur (Sonny) Farnsworth.

 

The combined color guard of the American Legion and VFW march through the square during the nations bi-centennial in 1976. The group is lead by VFW Commander Robert Souther and Legion Commander Tom Hayes.

The last gathering of the town's WWI veterans was held on November 11th 1976 with a parade and dinner sponsored by the local American Legion. Present but taken ill before the photo was taken was Fred Miller former Supt. of Schools.

While decreasing in population, veterans still gather as a group each Veterans Day at town hall for a cermony and dinner thanks to the efforts of the local Lions Club, American Legion and VFW Posts. According to local census figures only 30 WWII veterans survive in town, John (Babe) Johnson being that wars elder at 96 years of age.

 

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Comments (4)

Thank you Bobby. It was a pleasure to scan the pictures and look for people I knew when growing up in Holliston. Some faces were familiar yet couldn't attach a name ... except a 1976 picture with a tall gentlemen in uniform with a well groom mustache, marching and carrying a flag. regards, Roger Brown, HHS Class of 1966.

- Roger H. Brown | 5/27/18 10:56 PM

Strong work Bobby! Enjoying this..and remember when, from Atlanta, Georgia.

- Diane (Brown) Howard | 5/23/18 1:54 PM

Well done article !! On a side note I have in my Holliston stuff " The G.A.R. News " of post #6 reporting on the move of the building from Green St. to Exchange St.

- Ben Clarkson | 5/23/18 12:13 PM

Thank you Bobby for this great article. Bill so enjoyed going to this event each year and it is so nice to see the picture from 2008 that he was in. Thank you also for all that you do for the veterans and for the town.

- Janet Horne | 5/23/18 9:21 AM

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