LITTLETON — Many communities have monuments to memorialize community members who died in battle. Littleton has a bridge where, on Monday, the community once again gathered to remember and honor those who made the “ultimate sacrifice” in the service of their country.
Dedicated in 2003, the Veterans Memorial Bridge over the Ammonoosuc River has 7-inch by 9-inch plaques on its uprights that commemorate town residents who died, whether directly or as a result of wounds, in conflicts from the U.S. Civil War to the war on terrorism.
The bridge has 50 plaques for the 21 Littleton residents killed in the Civil War; 11 for those killed in World War I; nine for those who perished in World War II; seven from the Korean War; and one each from the Vietnam War and by terrorist act.
Each plaque has a flag holder and on Monday each also had a temporary hook on which local children, many of them scouts, hung small wooden wreaths. Later, representatives from Littleton, Bethlehem, Franconia, and Sugar Hill were joined by one who attended on behalf of the towns of Lisbon, Lyman and Landaff, to drop evergreen wreaths into the Ammonoosuc River.
Tina Greenlaw, who is president of the Ladies Auxiliary at Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 861, said Littleton’s Memorial Day observance is unique because the venue is unique. She said that with its plaques, the Veterans Memorial Bridge is the only one of its kind in the U.S.
The observance on the bridge began with a somber procession down Main Street, which included a rider-less horse. Hundreds of people, many of them wearing military regalia and many with their children, lined the street to watch the procession, which ended at the bridge and was followed by the raising of the American flag and the singing of the Star-Spangled Banner.
The poem, “Let them in, Peter,” was read, in which the narrator pleads with St. Peter at the Pearly Gates to let fallen soldiers into heaven.
“Tell them how they are missed/And say not to fear/It’s gonna be alright/With us down here,” the final stanza implores, “Let them in, Peter …”