As the smoke drifted from Lexington Green on April 19, 1775, riders bolted away to raise the alarm throughout New England. One of them arrived in Keene, 90 miles away, by noon the next day, though according to a Daughters of the American Revolution history of those events, there was no road from New Ipswich to Keene, only a bridle path and marked trees.
Volunteers were called for, and 30 men met at the tavern. On April 21, they marched "to oppose the Regulars."
They were among the 20,000 New England militiamen who encircled Boston to trap the army there. Two months after Lexington and Concord, one of the Keene volunteers, Sgt. Asahel Nims, lost his life at Bunker Hill.
Also at Bunker Hill were Joseph Blood and Ebenezer Blood Jr. of Mason. Not quite eight years before, Mason had been incorporated by the royal governor in the name of "George the Third, by the Grace of God, of Great Britain, France, Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith...." The Bloods were both killed at Bunker Hill fighting to overthrow that governor and that king.
On April 12, 1861, the Civil War began at Fort Sumter, South Carolina. On May 1, the 1st Regiment, New Hampshire Volunteer Infantry began mustering into service in Concord. It engaged in no battles, but the 2nd Regiment, mustered at the same time, saw many. One of its volunteers, 38-year-old Private Joseph Sawyer of Bethlehem, was wounded and captured at Gettysburg two years later. A prisoner of war for eight months, he died of disease in Richmond, Va., in March 1864.
Some names hide among the many printed in official records or carved on cold stones. Among them are Alfred Homer Bousquet, Omer Boissonneau and Julian Grodzki of Manchester, all with European surnames, all killed in Europe in World War I. There are Matthew Albert Kula and Lionel Phillip Blanchard of Manchester, both Navy cooks killed in World War II. There are Frank Indyk of Raymond and Alexander Wainio of Troy, both Marines, both killed in Vietnam, both at age 18.
Then there are the names that ring familiar. Michael Cook of Salem, killed in Iraq on his 27th birthday, and Sgt. Andrew Nicol, Army Ranger who grew up in Kensington, killed in Afghanistan on his fifth tour of duty, at age 23.
This weekend, we remember them all. We thank God for them all. We pray that they rest, forever, in peace.