SALEM — Jean Rockett never met her uncle, Vincent Ansaloni, but her family always talked about him as she was growing up.
Ansaloni was one of many young men who never came home from World War II. He was killed in action while serving with the U.S. Marine Corps on Guam in July 1944, at the age of 26.
His family never saw him after he enlisted and was sent to the Pacific in 1942. Rockett remembers her grandmother kept a gold star in her window for her fallen son.
This spring the city joined the Ansaloni family in keeping his memory alive by naming a veteran’s square in his honor. A sign bearing his name was recently erected at the corner of Crombie and Norman streets, not far from where Ansaloni grew up on Broad Street.
“We don’t want to ever see any of those who have given their lives forgotten, no matter which war or conflict,” Rockett said. “... Our veterans give so much.”
Salem Veterans Agent Kim Emerling has begun work to rededicate veteran’s squares around the city that have missing signs. As part of the project, new squares are being named for veterans — like Vincent Ansaloni — who have been overlooked, for one reason or another.
Of the city’s 75 veteran’s squares, nearly half have signs that need refurbishing or that are missing altogether, Emerling said.
In addition to Ansaloni’s, signs honoring veterans have gone up in four areas across the city in recent months. The signs are black with gold lettering and gold stars, bearing the veteran’s name, the war in which he served and other details.
“We come from a city that has one of the longest and richest military histories in the country,” said Emerling, who was hired as veterans agent last year. “As a veteran, that’s always important to remember, especially those who paid the ultimate sacrifice. ... People tend to forget.”