South Boston Medal of Honor Walk
Massachusetts Fallen Heroes Memorial (future site)
Welcome to the South Boston Medal of Honor Walk. I'm Caleb, and I’m a student at UMass Boston and a veteran of the U.S. Navy. Together with my fellow student veterans, I'll be taking you on a storytelling walk of South Boston war memorials, honoring the courage and sacrifice of New England’s military veterans.
This roughly 3-mile walk will take you from the Seaport District, across the Commonwealth Flats, out to the tip of Castle Island in the Boston Harbor. Along the way, you’ll pass by prominent sites in South Boston’s military history, including memorials to those who lost their lives in four U.S. wars: The Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
As you walk, you’ll hear the stories of five local veterans who fought in these wars—and who received the Congressional Medal of Honor for extraordinary acts of valor: Staff Sergeant Ryan Pitts, Colonel Jack Jacobs, Colonel Harvey Barnum, Captain Thomas Kelley, and Captain Thomas Hudner. We are honored for the opportunity to speak with these courageous veterans and to share their stories with you.
Before we get started, I'll tell you how the walk will work. VoiceMap uses your location to play commentary automatically. The walk is about an hour and a half long, and we'll give you directions to keep you on track. There'll be some quiet stretches along the way, and as you reach relevant sites, the stories will come to you. If you feel lost, take a quick look at the map on your screen to make sure you're on track, but otherwise, you can just put your phone away and focus on your surroundings.
Thanks for joining us. Now I'll turn things over to Shelita to get the walk started.
I’m Shelita, and I’m a veteran of the U.S. Army. Our walk begins right where you’re standing, at the future site of the Massachusetts Fallen Heroes Memorial, currently under construction in the lot next to District Hall. Boston firefighters, police, veterans, Gold Star Families, and other patriotic citizens established this memorial to honor the brave servicemen and women of Massachusetts who died fighting in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. While it may not look like much now, when it’s complete, the memorial will include a 50-foot obelisk and a new public space here in South Boston’s Seaport Square Park.
Now, start walking down Northern Avenue, keeping the grassy area to your left, and the memorial site to your right. As you walk, I'll tell you a bit more about the Medal of Honor and what it means.
The Medal of Honor is awarded by the President on behalf of Congress, and it recognizes U.S. service members who’ve showed outstanding valor in combat. Stretching back to the Civil War, it’s America’s highest military honor.
As of May 2015, twelve veterans have received Medals of Honor for their service in the War in Afghanistan. Staff Sergeant Ryan Pitts is one of them. As you continue on to Seaport Blvd, Sandy will introduce you to his story.