Friday, September 27, 2013
36044. Joseph Litchfield
I've spent a lifetime, or at least an adult lifetime, driving by the Beechwood Cemetery in Cohasset, Massachusetts, without stopping to say hello. Whether I've been on my way from Hull to Scituate via back roads (a seriously bad habit of mine, avoiding well-trodden paths), seeking the back entrance to Wompatuck State Park or looking for viewing access of the Aaron River Reservoir, I've passed in stony silence, garnering the same in return.
I have to say, though, after walking it, it seems as if we've already met a thousand times. A Litchfield in Cohasset? Who'd a thunk it? The names were as familiar as expected to someone who lived in the neighboring towns for most of his life. So, too, were the three little letters etched beneath the name of Joseph W. (and on the other side of the marker, beneath the name George A.: G.A.R.
Union veterans served at the right time for the formation of a brotherhood-type organization. In Victorian age America transportation and communication systems were the best they had ever been, and idle time was in fashion. People could gather like never before, for fun and shared experiences with people of similar interests or common backgrounds. So it was with the men who fought for the North in the Civil War, the members of the Grand Army of the Republic.
In Joe Litchfield's day (although there are probably ten to twelve still living in Cohasset and Scituate today!) the three little letters spoke volumes, though, sadly, today they don't inspire as much reverence as they should. Joe served aboard the USS Minnesota as a sailor, seeing some "fearsome fighting," according to the 1893 Cohasset town history. George served with Company F, 32nd Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment, and obviously died during the conflict.
G.A.R.: three little words we should never forget, but mostly have.