This is a description of the plaques, tablets and artifacts on display in the Hall of Flags of the Lowell Memorial Auditorium:
On November 30, 1924, shortly after the Lowell Memorial Auditorium opened, the city of Lowell, the various veterans groups in the city, and the Auditorium trustees, held a formal ceremony to unveil tablets honoring the residents of Lowell who had died while serving in the military in the wars fought by the United States up until that time. Here is a brief description of the tablets which are made of bronze and are mounted on the walls of the Hall of Flags (which was then called Trophy Hall):
Tablet for Revolutionary War, War of 1812 and Mexican War. Inscription is “This tabled is inscribed and erected by the citizens of Lowell as an enduring memorial to all from this vicinity who in earlier conflicts of the American nation gave their lives in the service of their country by land or sea: The American Revolution, 1776 – 1781; The War of 1812; The Mexican War, 1846 – 1847.”
Tablets (4) for Civil War dead from Lowell. Each tablet begins with the inscription, “In grateful memory of Lowell men who gave their lives for the Union in the Civil War, 1861 – 1865.” Each tablet contains 162 names for a total of 648.
Tablet for Spanish-American War dead from Lowell. It contains 32 names and bears the inscription “In grateful memory of all Lowell men who gave their lives for their country in the war against Spain or who perished in the destruction of the U.S.S. Maine in Havana Harbor 1898.”
Tablets (2) for World War I dead from Lowell. They contain a total of 146 names and each bear the inscription “To the perpetual honor of those from Lowell who made the supreme sacrifice in the World War, 1917 – 1918.”
BENJAMIN BUTLER BUST – A bronze bust of Benjamin F. Butler was presented to the city of Lowell on Thursday, May 22, 1930, by the Grand Army of the Republic. Sculpted by Lucien Gosselin of Manchester, N.H., the all-bronze bust sits atop a marble pedestal which bears a plaque which reads “Benjamin F. Butler, Major General; Brigadier General of Massachusetts Militia 1861; Military Commander of New Orleans, 1862; Commanded Army of the James, 1863; Elected to Congress from Massachusetts, 1867-1875 and 1877-1879; Elected Governor of Massachusetts, 1882; Presidential Candidate, 1884.”
WORLD WAR II – On Sunday, May 1947, four tablets inscribed with the names of the 436 residents of Lowell who died while in the military service during World War II were unveiled in the Hall of Flags. The names are organized by branch of service with two tablets for the United States Army (320 names); a third tablet for the United States Navy (84 names) and United States Marine Corps (25 names) combined. At the top of each tablet is the inscription “In grateful memory of those from Lowell who gave their lives for their country in World War II 1941-1945.” A fourth tablet, bearing the inscription, “This tablet is dedicated to the memory of these Lowell men who made the supreme sacrifice in World War II 1941 – 1945” lists those lost in the Merchant Marine (five names); the American Field Service (one name); and as an American War Correspondent (one name).
MEDAL OF HONOR RECIPIENTS – On Sunday, May 30, 1953, a bronze plaque bearing the names of six Lowell residents who had been awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor was unveiled. The names of the recipients and year of receipt of the medal are Adelbert Ames, 1861; Joseph S. G. Sweatt, 1863; Eugene W. Ferris, 1865; James F. Sullivan, 1884; George Charette, 1899; and Joseph R. Ouellette, 1950. Also included is a summary of each recipient’s medal citation. Above the names is an inscription that reads “This tablet is dedicated by the citizens of Lowell as an enduring memorial to these men who by their courageous and heroic deeds while in the service of their country have won America’s highest award for bravery the Congressional Medal of Honor. On Sunday, October 21, 1973, a similar plaque with the name of David McNerney, a Lowell native who received the Medal of Honor in 1968, was appended to the original plaque.
KOREAN WAR – On Sunday, May 27, 1956, a bronze tablet bearing the names of 17 Lowell service members who died in the Korean War was dedicated in a ceremony in the Hall of Flags following the city’s Memorial Day parade. Above the names, the plaque is inscribed “In grateful memory of those from Lowell who gave their lives for their country in the Korean War, 1950 – 1953.”
VIETNAM WAR – On Sunday, October 21, 1973, a bronze tablet containing the names of 21 Lowell service members (14 in the Army and 7 from the Marine Corps) who died in the Vietnam War was dedicated in a ceremony in the Hall of Flags. Above the names, the plaque reads “In grateful memory of those from Lowell who gave their lives for their country in the Southeast Asian War, 1964 – 1973.”
MILITARY ORDER OF THE PURPLE HEART – On Sunday, May 16, 1971, Ronald Beattie, the national commander of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, unveiled a plaque which honors all recipients of the medal. The plaque reads “In memory of our fighting men who received the Purple Heart Medal, donated by Military order of the Purple Heart/USA, May 16, 1971.”
“In Memory of Purple Heart Recipient General George S. Patton, Jr. and all men under his command who received the medal. Donated by Military Order of the Purple Heart/USA, May 16, 1971.”
PATTON PORTRAIT AND PLAQUE – The same day as the Purple Heart plaque was dedicated (May 16, 1971), Ruth Patton Totten unveiled a portrait of her father, General George S. Patton Jr. and an accompanying plaque that says “In memory of Purple Heart recipient General George S. Patton, Jr. and all men under his command who received the medal. Donated by Military Order of the Purple Heart/USA, May 16, 1971.” The portrait and the unveiling event were organized by the Lowell-based Patton Memorial Society. General Patton’s wife, Beatrice Banning Ayer, was a Lowell resident whose father, Frederick C. Ayer, was a leading New England industrialist who, with his brother, James C. Ayer, was prominent in the patent medicine industry.
EDITH NOURSE ROGERS PORTRAIT – After the sudden death of her husband, John Jacob Rogers, in 1925, Edith Nourse Rogers succeeded him in Congress and served there until her own death in 1960. Though a Republican, she was a strong supporter of Roosevelt’s New Deal. During World War II, she sponsored the legislation that created the Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps (WAC) and helped draft the GI Bill which established financial and educational benefits for veterans. This portrait of Rogers by local artist [Janet Lambert Moore] was unveiled on May 24, 1998. The portrait is accompanied by a plaque that reads “Edith Nourse Rogers, March 19, 1881 – September 10, 1960, Member of the House of Representatives, Massachusetts 5th District, 1925 – 1960, Mother of the G.I.Bill.”
SCOTT FINNERAL PLAQUE – A Lowell native who enlisted in the Navy after graduating from Lowell High in 1988, Scottie Finneral and five comrades were killed when their MH-53 mine sweeping helicopter plunged into the Persian Gulf during the first Gulf War. This plaque in his memory was dedicated on November 11, 1998, as part of the city’s Veterans Day ceremonies. The plaque reads “In grateful memory of Machinist 3/C George Scott Finneral, United States Navy of Lowell, Massachusetts, who gave his life for his county in the Persian Gulf War, September 14, 1991.”
JOSEPH OUELLETTE MEDAL OF HONOR – Cut off by the massive North Korean assault on the Pusan Perimeter, 20 year old PFC Joseph R. Ouellette of Lowell performed countless acts of extreme heroism that ensured the survival of his 2nd Infantry Division comrades but cost him his life. His posthumous Medal of Honor was presented to his mother by General Omar Bradley. In 2007, Ouellette’s family donated his medal to the Greater Lowell Veterans Council for display in the Hall of Flags where an unveiling ceremony was held on Saturday, September 8, 2007.
POW/MIA DISPLAY – This display features an enlarged image of the 32 cent POW & MIA stamp issued by the U.S. Postal Service on May 29, 1995. The purpose of the stamp is to remember those that have not returned (MIA or missing in action) and to thank those who endured captivity and came back as heroes (POW or prisoner of war). Beneath the stamp enlargement is a display of artifacts featuring . . .
SOLON PERKINS FLAG – Captain Solon Perkins of Lowell was killed in action on June 3, 1863, at Clinton, Louisiana, while leading a troop of Union Cavalry. After the Civil War, his comrades presented the flag they carried throughout the war to Perkins’ mother. A relative commissioned an ornate wooden frame for the flag which decades later ended up forgotten in a basement storage room of the Lowell Memorial Auditorium. In January 2014, Auditorium employees rediscovered the flag which was then refurbished by the Greater Lowell Veterans Council. The restored flag and refurbished frame were unveiled on May 31, 2015, as part of the city’s Memorial Day ceremony.