Veteran Memorial Plaque Holds a Meaningful Message for WHS Students


Grace Sewell

The memorial plaque for veterans is located on a rock in front of the high school. Photo/ Julia Adams

veteransrockThe Walpole Veteran’s committee held its annual Veteran’s Day ceremony on November 11, which recognized the sacrifices that veterans in the town have made. Usually held in the center of town, the venue was changed to the Walpole High School gym per request of the Walpole High School alumni association.

Lieutenant General Richard Koffinke Jr., a member of the association, helped to brainstorm how they would spend the $4,500 donated to use for the school and town. The association decided on a Veteran memorial plaque to be displayed in front of the high school beside the American flag. The veterans who attended Walpole High and gave up their lives in war are featured on the plaque. Former WHS custodian Richard McCarthy is credited with the extensive amount of work he put into researching the people featured on the plaque.

When Veteran’s Day finally came around and the ceremony began, members of the Walpole Police and Fire Department were present along with Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, and members of the WHS band.

“The ceremony was quieter and more organized in the gym,” said Koffinke, “the venue made it possible for the stone to be properly dedicated to the veterans.” He is unsure of the venue for the ceremony in years to come, but the gym was popular among many Walpole residents.

When he began serving in the military 1972, Koffinke completed  a combination of military and civilian work.  An important part of his military career was running a group in the department of defense for fifteen years. During his time in the military, he served in Germany and in the United States, and he took part in six combat deployments in the Middle East.

The alumni association’s main goal for placing the stone at Walpole High is to have it serve as a reminder to the student body of WHS.  Koffinke said, “We wanted to put it some place to send a message to high school students that there are more important things than getting the best grades or winning a championship.”  

Koffinke also spoke of the learning experience one goes through by joining the military. “Serving in the military brings together all walks of life, genders, races, creeds, and religions,” Koffinke said.

Koffinke’s years in the military have given him an appreciation for what he has, and he hopes the plaque outside the school will do the same for students and faculty. He also explained that his main goal is for students to appreciate the Walpole High alumni who gave up their lives to protect the American people.

 “When students come out the front door, they should think why those names are there and what those people did to make this town what it is now, ” said Koffinke.