Memorials need to be remembered

As I was visiting the library in Rancho Santa Fe, a small town about 26 miles north of the city of San Diego, I noticed a memorial plaque next to a flag pole. It was dedicated to Lt. John B. McGrew, the only resident from the town to die in World War II.

Wanting to know more, I asked the people at the library. No one knew anything about it. I asked the people at the Rancho Santa Fe Historical Society. Same answer. I found this to be a curious: here is a “favorite son” who paid the ultimate sacrifice, yet no one remembers him.

As you can see from the photo, this is a substantial bronze memorial. It is placed in a place of honor very close to the American flag. A lot of thought, planning and money was invested in it. Yet now no one remember it, or him. Perhaps time has blurred its memory. Maybe the sad events of WWII make it hard to remember.

Should anything be done about this? Do we just go our merry way and let the past, like old soldiers, simply fade away? What can be done? Happily, a lot can be done. And it can be interesting and fulfilling on a personal and community level.

Here is what I decided to do: I spent some time researching as much about Lt. John B McGrew’s memorial as I could. Search engines make this simple. In the process I came to appreciate this man’s life and the circumstances surrounding his death, giving the few words on his memorial greater context.

Then I shared what I learned on Waymarking  which, as they describe themselves, provides tools for you to catalog, mark and visit interesting and useful locations around the world. It wasn’t super time-consuming.

Still more could be done. I could organize an event where I demonstrate how to clean and preserve his memorial. This would focus the community’s attention on their history and maybe stimulate more interest in discovering other plaques and memorial in their area. Stay tuned for what may yet develop.

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