Mattapoisett honors veterans at annual ceremony

Nov 12, 2018

MATTAPOISETT — A large crowd assembled at Old Hammondtown School on Monday to honor veterans, specifically they paid tribute to the Mattapoisett men and women who served during World War I. 

Mattapoisett residents joined the Florence Eastman American Legion Post 280, in observance of Veterans Day, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the signing of the World War I armistice.

Commander Michael Lamoureux gave opening remarks and reminded the audience of the 68 Mattapoisett residents who served during the war. 

“They were people who didn’t necessarily go to combat, but they were ready to,” he said. “And only one of them didn’t come home.”

An army nurse named Florence Eastman, who worked at the Ned’s Point Lighthouse, volunteered to work at a hospital which oversaw wounded and sick soldiers in Long Island, New York. 

“She ended up running a ward — a giant ward — and it was one of those terrible wards so typical of World War I,” said Lamoureux. “Virtually everybody who was there was dying of influenza, they brought it back with them from Europe.”

He added that the people who worked for Eastman dubbed her the “Angel of the Wards” because she worked so much that they could not figure out when she slept or how often she ate.

“All she wanted to do, was take care of her boys,” he added. “She died of influenza at the age of 22.”

Her story inspired the men of the American Legion post to name it after her, in honor of her efforts during the war. 

The ceremony also featured guest speaker Colonel Micheal Mendenhall from Portsmouth, Rhode Island. Mendenhall, who has an extensive military resume, discussed the armistice and the importance of Veterans Day.

“World War I was supposed to be the ‘Great War,’ it was supposed to be the ‘war to end all wars,’ it would solve the problems of today — but it didn’t,” Mendenhall said. 

Mendenhall also briefly addressed the country’s political divide, urging people to put politics aside. 

“I know that there is a disagreement within our country about what is important,” he added. “But what I would ask is that we remember [today] is about those who served.”

Lamoureux presented Mendenhall with a certificate of appreciation following his speech, thanking him for his continued service. 

“He is a soldier’s soldier,” Lamoureux stated. “Anyone who can lead and use those helicopters, the way he did and the guys I saw in Vietnam did, are heroes forever.”