Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Edifice Complex

Hingham misfires with snub of military hero
By Peter Gelzinis
Herbert L. Foss can’t tell us how it felt to win the Medal of Honor, only to be ignored by the town of Hingham.

That’s because Hingham’s one and only recipient of America’s highest military honor has been dead for 72 years.

Foss was immortalized for cutting a vital communications cable in the face of enemy fire during the Spanish-American war. Almost 40 years later, on Sept. 1, 1937, while he was working as the caretaker at Hingham’s Fort Hill Cemetery, Foss’ brave heart gave out.

“In all those years, this town never saw fit to name so much as a blade of grass after a true hero,” said Hingham’s veteran’s agent, Mike Cunningham. “It’s a disgrace.”

An absolute disgrace, to be more precise ... but also part of Hingham’s odd character. You see, for all the time Herbert Foss lived and raised a family there, Hingham stuck to its tradition of refusing to name buildings, schools or parks after people.

Then, about 50 years ago, Hingham’s board of selectmen suddenly decided to name an elementary school after one William Foster, a fellow selectman.

And that was it ... until Monday night.

A new elementary school, set to open in September, needed a name. All that a trio of town hacks could manage was the old name: “East School,” coupled with the “Galo Library Wing,” a nod to the current school superintendent, Dorothy “Dot” Galo.

To be immortalized in most places you need to: a) do something extraordinary, and b) be dead, or close to it. Dorothy “Dot” Galo is a nice lady, who qualifies on neither front.

Yet in a bizarre move last night, Hingham’s school committee voted 7-0 to once again ignore Herbert Foss and the impassioned plea Mike Cunnigham made to have the new school bear his name. Instead, they went with Dot Galo.

“This was a flawed, ill-conceived decision,” said James Claypoole, the former chairman of Hingham’s School Committee and current chairman of its veteran’s council. “This is a consequence of the selectmen’s failure to establish an objective policy that sets rules and criteria as to those eligible to make the cut for such an honor. We need some ground rules.

“Because no such policy exists,” Claypoole added, “the school committee was reduced to making an emotional choice.”

At the next selectmen’s meeting Claypoole will recommend that some qualifications be put forth.

Like being the only Hingham resident to win the Medal of Honor

This story nearly made me choke on my coffee this morning... I think I've just about had it with politicians naming everything after themselves... When Hingham decided to alter the laws, the towns only MOH recipient should have been at the top of the list for a school. Heck, they should have changed the law for him in the first place.

Here's an idea for a new law... lets make it illegal for politicians to name anything after themselves. grrrrrrrr....


MUD said...

For some strange reason, the MOH has been changed and it no longer is awarded for valor above and beyond. Two Guardsmen were killed when they drove their vehicle into a bomb laden car to keep it from blowing up others in a convoy. They were not awarded the MOH even though they died. It was said that they were just doing their job. BS on that one. They were both from an Artillery Unit and doing convoy security. To me the MOH is not what it once was. Great Story. MUD

Sully said...

That one should have been a no-brainer too MUD. Keep riding, I'll keep reading.