Dan Mackey had a vision.
The Salem contractor knew all about the run-down memorial honoring eight Sylvania workers who died in World War II. He knew the memorial was in pieces, in storage in parts across the city. He urged the Salem Veterans Council to see it restored and placed back on the former Sylvania property, which is now part of Salem State University’s central campus.
Sadly, Mackey passed away last week before he could see his efforts pay off. But his work did not go unnoticed.
“Without his advocacy, (the memorial) would still be lying in pieces in storage,” Salem State President Patrica Meservey told the crowd gathered under sunny skies for the restored memorial’s dedication Monday.
These events grow in importance as more World War II veterans pass away and the war becomes a subject for the history books, not something that uprooted the lives of our parents, grandparents and neighbors. As Americans continue to fight and die for their country overseas, it is vitally important to continue to see the war in human, not academic, terms.
It is clear the effects are still felt by the family members of those honored Monday.
Sylvania employee Ralph Fiore died in 1945 during the battle of Okinawa. He was 19. His sister Josephine, now 94, still remembers receiving the news.
“I was home when they came with a Western Union telegram,” she told reporter Tom Dalton. “I was home alone … I didn’t know how to tell my mother or anybody.”
Dan Mackey, the Salem Veterans Council and Salem State University all deserve our thanks for seeing Fiore and his coworkers aren’t forgotten. The white Vermont marble memorial will help us continue to give thanks to eight workers who sacrificed their lives for their country in World War II. Let’s not forget their names: Christ Andrianopolus, Edward Dumont, William Herlihy, Rene Pelletier, Roland Caron, Ralph Fiore, Stefan Palmer and Frank Wright.