John Walsh had carefully collected the 78-year-old newspaper with his mother’s face on it and packed up a framed shot of her astride the Kearsarge anchor in Southie, hoping to show some in attendance the old shots and keep his mother’s memory alive.
So he was pleased to find that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts had somehow ended up on literally the same page, pulling a photo from the Aug. 15, 1944, edition of the Record-American of his bathing-suit-clad, then-16-year-old mom, Jean Marie Sullivan Walsh, as part of its rededication of the South Boston shoreline staple.
The Record-American, a predecessor to the Herald, had that day splashily referred to Walsh’s mom as “Pretty Jean Sullivan, South Boston mermaid,” and said that the breezes coming off the ocean are so refreshing that she “hasn’t a care” on the similarly warm, sunny day as the ceremony generations later.
“It’s pretty cool,” Walsh said after the event to rededicate the anchor after the state had spruced it up. “And it’s good to remember that Southie’s still here even though it’s evolved and changed.”
The Kearsarge anchor for generations has stood as a landmark of the area’s waterfront, a small but recognizable monument in a stretch of coastline full of them. On Tuesday, South Boston dignitaries assembled there with Naval officers and an ice cream cookie food truck to rededicate the monument, which has been restored to ship-shape condition.
The anchor represents several generations of USS Kearsarges, which have been successful battleships going back to the days of the Civil War, when the New Englander-crewed ship named after a New Hampshire mountain took down one of the Confederacy’s top warships. This anchor long has been in place to remember Navy vets who served in wars.
“It’s important in these quiet moments when kids are just playing at the playground, or a couple is taking a walk on their way to Sully’s, to have this here, quietly reminding us every single minute of every day of the year just what the cost of freedom and liberty is,” Wu said during the event.
Also in attendance and speaking were Gov. Charlie Baker, U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch and state Rep. David Biele, joined by Council President Ed Flynn and Councilors Michael Flaherty and Erin Murphy.
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