Letter: Fall River World War I monument recognizing fallen heroes to be rededicated
On Saturday, May 28th, the spirit of twenty-two WW I brave heroes from the Flint Village will be honored again. They were first honored on October 12, 1920, with a parade and speaking program on the church property of the Notre Dame Parish.
During WWI over 600 soldiers and sailors from the Notre Dame de Lourdes Church were involved in military service. Twenty-two gave the ultimate sacrifice during this world conflict. They were Omer Anctil, Henri Bastille, Ovila Bernier, Adhemar Canuel, Alfred Caya, Alphonse Cournoyer, Omer H. Daudelin, Alfred Delisle, Alfred Ferland, Joseph F. Gagnon, Aime Gignac, Eugene Laforest, Jean Lepage, Arthur Maililloux, Theodore Milotte, Albert C. Maynard, Etienne Nadeau, Horace Aubin Pelletier, Pierre P. Renaud, Alfred Richmond, Arthur Richmond and George Turcotte.
Near the end of the war the Notre Dame parishioners started the plans for a monument. They raised over $26,000 to hire sculptor Lucien Grosselin. His final work included a large bronze statue of the Blessed Sacrament, another bronze statue of an angel cradling an injured soldier and three plaques around the base of the structure. In addition, Fall River granite was used to make the base of the monument.
Since its dedication over 100 years ago, the statute has never undergone any major repairs. It even survived the great Notre Dame church fire in 1982. The fire destroyed the church, leveled blocks of housing and damaged local businesses. Despite this destruction and leaving 300 people homeless, the 25-foot bronze and granite structure was untouched.
Years after a new church was built, the Fall River Catholic Diocese sold the church and property when they were consolidating parishes. Owned by Master Builder Christian Church, the church is home to this ministry and the East Gate Christian Academy. Pastor Ronald Bernier has taken on the mission of preserving this monument. In 2021 he wrote a book entitled, “Monument to the Memory of Our Braves – 100 Years”, which tells the story of the reporting of the first dedication in 1920 along with a list of all soldiers and sailors who died and served in WWI from the city of Fall River.
The past few months Bernier has been planning a noon time event on May 28 to honor the fallen heroes of the flint neighborhood. The public is invited to attend this Memorial Day weekend ceremony. A brief speaking program starting in the church will include the history of the statue, and remarks from veteran organizations. In addition, the students from the Academy will sing patriotic and religious songs. After the wreath is displayed at the monument, attendees will be invited for light refreshments provided by local flint food establishments.