Jamaica Plain has been shaped by war.
The heart of the neighborhood is Monument Square, so named for its prominent monument to the local men, from what was then a heavily abolitionist area, who sacrificed their lives in a horrific civil war to end slavery and preserve the Union.
Across the street is the Loring-Greenough House, whose original Tory owner was driven out by local revolutionaries in the 1770s. The house became a field hospital in the war that created the United States of America.
Other JP monuments pay tribute to the men who fought in two World Wars and in Vietnam. Local residents also have served in conflicts too small or too messy to have memorials.
Memorial Day is a time to remember the incredible sacrifice and loss of war. It is also a time to reflect on how it is part of what made our neighborhood, our city and our country what it is today.
Upcoming local events will mark the 200th anniversary next month of the War of 1812, a conflict barely remembered today, even though it defined our national identity—it provided us with “The Star-Spangled Banner.” It was a complicated war, and we’re a complicated country. We can learn a lot by trying to understand it.
Memorials, after all, are for the living. The living today includes a huge new population of veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan, often coming home physically and mentally wounded to shamefully poor resources. Many of them visit JP’s VA hospital.
On Memorial Day, remember those living vets, too. A great way to do so is to support the JP organizations that support them, such as Rebuilding Together Boston and Volunteers of America Massachusetts.