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New Salem veterans monument needs final fundraising push

Salem News - 4/26/2024

Apr. 26—SALEM — It's been installed and dedicated. Now, the latest memorial honoring two legends in Salem's military history needs just a little more cash to cross the finish line.

Colin Bowker, a member of Salem Scout Troop 24 working toward the highest rank of Eagle Scout, recently completed and delivered a newly restored and expanded memorial honoring Benjamin Peirce — Salem's only minuteman to be killed in the battles of Lexington and Concord — and Maj. Gen. Stephen Abbot — a Salem merchant who went from leading the scouts attached to Gen. George Washington's headquarters to becoming a leader in the second division of the Massachusetts Militia.

The memorial was unveiled at the First Muster celebration on April 13, with just over $6,000 of the necessary $13,727 raised at the time. The balance was fronted by the city's Veteran's Council for the time being, according to Kim Emerling, Salem's veterans agent.

"He came to me about six or seven months ago now and was looking for ideas," Emerling said of Bowker's Eagle Scout project. "I threw a couple out there, hoping he'd gravitate toward this one — it's something the Veteran's Council has been thinking about doing for a while."

At the time, the monument was several inches high at roughly the same location off the corner of the Church Street parking lot downtown. It contained a single plaque honoring Peirce, dedicated alongside a liberty tree on Patriots' Day in 1976.

"I've been doing this for 12 years, and nobody has liked that the (Benjamin) Peirce monument was sort of on the ground," Emerling said. "It's one of those things, another good idea floating around that nobody picks up. He liked the idea, and I helped him out with the verbiage on the plaque and to get all the requirements through the Eagle Scout project taken care of."

Bowker's project relocated the memorial to a more visible and safer location. It also recovered the existing bronze plaque honoring Peirce and added another alongside it for Abbot.

Eagle Scout projects represent the end of a journey of service to the community and the final requirement to achieving that coveted highest rank.

"The Eagle Scout project was to pretty much bring dignity to the current memorial, which wasn't well taken care of. No one could see it," Bowker said this week. "This was pretty much to bring it more to the forefront so the public could see it and honor this other soldier who currently has no recognition.

"They aren't very well known."

The project has seen some significant support from the city already. The relocation of the memorial put the project in front of the City Council, which gave it a green light this past winter.

"It's crazy," he said. "I've never had anything like this under my supervision. It was a lot of work in the beginning getting everything moving, but once everything was set in place on fundraising and what not, we've been continuing without many difficulties."

All that remains is the funding piece, even with the memorial having arrived.

"It has already been paid for by the Veteran's Council," Bowker said, "so we need to pay them back essentially."

To contribute to the project, visit

Contact Dustin Luca at 978-338-2523 or Follow him at or on Twitter @DustinLucaSN.

Contact Dustin Luca at 978-338-2523 or Follow him at or on Twitter @DustinLucaSN.


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