SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Special Report

September 8, 2011

Memorials pay tribute to North Shore's fallen service members

Their deaths were felt across a community, and their funerals were emotional and historic, each attracting hundreds, if not thousands, of people who showed up to respect and honor the sacrifice.

It happened first in Marblehead in 2005 after Staff Sgt. Christopher Piper, 43, died from wounds inflicted by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan. It was sadly repeated in Swampscott for Army Spc. Jared Raymond in 2006 and Marine Capt. Jennifer Harris in 2007; in Beverly for Army Spc. Stephen Fortunato in 2008 and last December in Salem for Army Sgt. James Ayube II.

For the first time since Vietnam, cities and towns had to figure out the best way to mourn and remember one of their own lost to combat. The post 9/11 funerals were intense, patriotic spectacles, but they were fleeting. In their aftermath, communities have chosen to pay lasting tribute in a variety of ways.

In Swampscott, the intersection of Essex Street and Danvers Road is named after Raymond. Jennifer Harris Square is located where Essex Street meets Stetson Avenue. Raymond, 20, and Harris, 28, were killed in Iraq.

"It's a daily reminder every time people drive through (the squares)," said Jim Schultz, Swampscott's veterans agent, who played a major role in planning both funerals. "And I believe they are a source of comfort for the families."

Schultz is dedicated to ensuring that both squares are properly maintained, looking around whenever he drives through them to see that everything is "up to snuff," that the lawn is cut and the flags are in good condition.

There are also memorials to Raymond and Harris at Swampscott High School.

The Swampscott-based North Shore detachment of the Marine Corps League also honored Harris, renaming itself the Capt. Jennifer J. Harris Detachment. Harris, who was the first female pilot in the elite Purple Foxes Squadron, was killed when her helicopter was shot down just days before she was to return home from her third tour of duty in Iraq.

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