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Hingham officials look to add naval statue to Medal of Honor memorial

Posted by Jessica Bartlett  February 21, 2014 02:47 PM

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Hingham officials are looking to add a tribute to naval veterans at the planned waterfront memorial for Medal of Honor winner Herbert L. Foss, but is meeting resistance from the memorial's chief backer.

Discussions have begun to add the Lone Sailor Statute to a planned pavilion constructed in Foss’s name. The bronze statute of a Navy man is recognizable throughout the country as a symbol for those who’ve served at sea, with photographers and visitors often drawn to his bundled demeanor and deep-set eyes constantly trained on the horizon.

“I saw this statute as a way to honor Herbert Foss and link his bravery and what he did and what it stands for both in the past with the present,” said Selectman Paul Healey, who has spearheaded the suggestion.

Healey said the statute would be in addition to the planned Foss memorial pavilion. Set to sit near the Hingham Bathing Beach, the granite memorial will recognize the Hingham resident's role in the Spanish American war.

“I wanted it to be socialized, and this town is capable of doing something like this,” Healey said, noting that Naval Memorial Board of Directors in Washington would have to approve an application for the statute. “It’s an ideal opportunity to not only honor Herbert Foss, but all the men and women who serve the country’s armed forces.”

Proponents behind the Foss recognition have other plans, pushing for the Foss memorial to stand by itself at Hingham Harbor, and to put the Naval veteran recognition elsewhere in town.

“It’s not intended to be a memorial for any one person, like Foss,” said Jim Claypoole, chair of the Herbert L. Foss Naming Committee, of the statute proposal. “It’s my suggestion, my personal suggestion, that the best place for the Lone Sailor Statute is in the Shipyard, where we would have recognition for the work done that made the … destroyer escorts in WWII.”

Discussions will continue in the Foss Naming Committee on whether and where the statute might work. In the interim, plans are moving ahead quickly to develop design for the pavilion.

Town officials have already approved a proposal to name the area The Herbert L. Foss Waterfront Park, and have put forward $40,000 to kick-start design and permitting.

“Frugality is important, but you have to know when to spend your money,” said Town Administrator Ted Alexiades. “We’re recognizing someone whose service is at the highest level. His feat was incredible. The recognition needs to be appropriate. I think appropriate in this case is fairly substantial.”

The spending and naming will be discussed with the Advisory Committee in late February. Town Meeting will eventually have to approve any plans.

Alexiades said the majority of the work – estimated to cost well into the six figures – will be funded through private donations.

Though fund-raising has not begun, Claypoole said he wasn't anxious about raising the money. That confidence is aligned with previous success, as Claypoole raised money for the prominent veterans memorial in front of Hingham Town Hall.

“I didn’t raise any money for the veterans memorial until I had a concept designed and we finished the renderings to take it to various bodies…to show them what the ultimate memorial will look like and we will do the same for the Foss memorial,” he said.

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