Since Cape Cod was one of the first locations to be inhabited by European settlers in what is now the United States, it makes sense that the region would have a lot of history.
While much of that history dates back several centuries, more modern history is also prevalent here through the Cape's eight major war memorials.
Here is some information on the meaning of these memorials, along with where they are located.
Massachusetts National Cemetery
The Massachusetts National Cemetery in Bourne has become home to the gravesites of thousands of soldiers since it opened in 1980. The cemetery also has a memorial trail that features monuments dedicated to veterans who died between World War I and the modern era. There are special flag-placing ceremonies at the Massachusetts National Cemetery on Veterans Day and Memorial Day, as well.
The Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument in Sandwich
At Eaton Square in downtown Sandwich, between Dexter Grist Mill and the Sandwich Glass Museum, is where you'll find the Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument. William Eaton dedicated this monument in 1911 to those who fought in the Civil War. Eaton started working at the B&S Glass Factory at the age of eight, and when the Civil War began when he was 12, many of his co-workers went to battle. As a result, Eaton had a great admiration for the Union soldiers, leading to him donating this 30-foot monument as an adult.
There's a small green space where Park Avenue and Main Street meet in Centerville, and there are three war memorials at that location. The most notable is the Soldiers' Monument, which is dedicated to the local men who died during the Civil War. The monument dates back to July 1866 and features the names of numerous war heroes from the area.
On one side of the Soldiers' Monument, there's a bronze plaque that's dedicated to Centerville's World War I veterans, while the other side has a memorial for the village's World War II, Korean War, and Vietnam War veterans.
Veterans Memorial Park
Overlooking Hyannis Harbor is Veterans Memorial Park, a site with a statue and plaques dedicated to the area's Korean War veterans and a fountain, statue, and plaque placed in the memory of famous resident John F. Kennedy. Because of the JFK Memorial, along with its beachfront location, this park is probably the busiest memorial on Cape Cod year-round.
Brewster War Memorials
Brewster's War Memorials sit in front of the former Town Hall that is now the Council on Aging building. The site dates back to 1893, but the memorials have been added more recently, as they are in remembrance of veterans of World War I, World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. The plaques are easy to spot, as they sit right in front of the building, just off Main Street.
Civil War Monument
The Civil War Monument in Chatham is a little bit difficult to access because it sits in the middle of the road where Main Street and Seaview Street meet. This downtown monument sits on a small green patch and features the names of six local soldiers who died in the Civil War between 1861 and 1865. Although the statue doesn't have a date, it is believed to have been erected sometime in the late 1860s.
Attack on Orleans
It's a little known fact that Orleans was attacked by a German submarine during World War I. On the morning of July 21, 1918, a submarine surfaced about three miles from Cape Cod's coast and opened fire on some local unarmed boats. Some of the shells landed on Nauset Beach, giving Orleans the distinction of being the only town in the United States to be hit with gunfire during WWI. Today, there is a sign near the beach pointing interested parties to the area where the attack occurred.
Wellfleet Soldiers and Sailors Monument
Duck Creek Cemetery on Route 6 in Wellfleet is home to the Soldiers and Sailors Monument, which is dedicated to the 221 residents who served in the Civil War. The monument also has the names of eight residents who died during the war. This memorial sits just outside of downtown Wellfleet, making it a leisurely stroll to check it out while exploring the sites.
Paying Your Respects on Cape Cod
There are plenty of places you can visit to show your respect for veterans and current U.S. soldiers on both Veterans Day and Memorial Day on Cape Cod.
By stopping by at least one of these monuments, and possibly laying a wreath, some flowers, or a flag, you can help ensure the sacrifices of the brave men and women who have served in the military are not forgotten.
All of these locations are relatively easy to find, so don't forget about our veterans and everything they have up for this country.