Burlington Past and Present, by John E. Fogelberg
(Article # 004)
Welcome Home Jubilee
Sixty years ago this month, Burlington gave a banquet celebration worthy of any little town of approximately 800 inhabitants. The war to end all wars had ended seven months before, and most of the boys were back home. Now Burlington wanted to honor its dead and show its appreciation for the service given by those who returned. Thirty names with photos are listed in the pamphlet for the occasion. Some actually saw action overseas and others would have, had the war lasted longer. Two never returned. Today, their sacrifice is remembered by local Legionnaires, whose quarters on Winn Street is known as the Millican McKenzie Post No. 273 of the American Legion.
Leonard Millican lived with his mother and brother in the old Simonds farmhouse which is still standing on the southerly side of Lexington Street near the Mall. He not only ran that farm but also worked at times as a furniture salesman. He was an active member of the Burlington church. Because of his fine tenor voice he often sang solo in the church choir. He enlisted in the Army July 25, 1917, for a time trained with a cavalry unit, and went overseas as a member of the 102nd Machine Gun Battalion. He was killed in action. Kenneth A. McKenzie also was a member of the church here and also sang in the choir because he too had a fine tenor voice. He joined Co. G, 101st Infantry from Woburn on July 12, 1917 and sailed for France with his outfit in October. He was killed in action July 22, 1918 while participating in a no-man’s land raid on enemy positions.
At the banquet, a concert by the Woburn City Band was given in the early afternoon. Later, various athletic contests entertained the children. There were 215 guests seated at the catered dinner at six o’clock, on long tables set up on the lawn in front of the new town hall. That building was only four years old. The reception in the evening was held inside. Bronze medals were presented by Col. Edward L. Logan, Comdr. 101st Infantry, 26th “Yankee” Division. The families of Leonard Millican and Kenneth McKenzie were presented with gold medals. The three boys who were still in the service received their bronze medals later.
One of the featured speakers of the afternoon testimonial was Capt. Wilford A. Walker of Co. F, 318th Infantry. Walker was a Burlington boy, born the son of Samuel and Rose Pooler Walker in 1895. He lived in the little house on Winn Street, now the home of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Blenkhorn. He was graduated from Woburn High in 1913 and granted his AB degree from Harvard in 1917. He enlisted in the Army Reserves in 1916 as a 2nd Lieutenant, was activated upon his graduation from Harvard, married Bertha Emery of Woburn in August, and a short time later set sail for France as Comdr. Co. C, 302nd Infantry.
Colonel Walker died at his home on Bow Street, Woburn only three years ago, after a very active life as a history teacher in Woburn High School, as a member of the famed 26th “Yankee” Division in the Second World War, as a member of the General Court for two terms, as a commander of the George A. Campbell Post No. 101, the American Legion, as an active member of Woburn’s Trinity Church and as the Business Manager of the Charles Choate Memorial Hospital.
In all things Wilford Walker was a gentleman. I know.
The part that Burlington played in that World War was worthy of the town. But the effort was made somewhat differently than those of former conflicts. Then the duty of raising and equipping men was the responsibility of the individual towns. Towns were required to enlist their own quotas and payment for same was theirs as well. For instance Burlington oversubscribed its quota during the Civil War. Now the federal government assumed those responsibilities, for the first Selective Service Act which made all men between the ages of 21 and 30 subject to military services was passed in May of 1917 and changed the following year to include all men between the ages to 18 to 45.
To pay for the war, income taxes had been increased and four issues of Liberty Bonds and one post-war issue of Victory Bonds were sold. Those people who could not invest at least $25 for a bond could buy War Savings Stamps which sold for as little as ten cents. The value of bonds bought by Burlington people is not known, but students in the Union School saved $946.50 in Thrift and Savings Stamps in 19l8 alone. The War Savings, Stamps Committee had eight members, only one of whom was a man, Arthur Nichols, the chairman. He was the local mailman at the time.
At the annual Town Meeting in March of 1919, the sum of $300.00 was allocated for a “welcome home” observance for the returning veterans. The moderator appointed a committee of 10 to organize the affair. Arthur Nichols was named the chairman and treasurer, and Joseph MacDowell became secretary. To supplement the small appropriation, the committee raised an extra $260 by running a series of whist parties and dances and by solicitation.
Burlington did not have its own recruiting office, but it did have a number of very active service organizations run by the women of the town. The spark plug of the local Red Cross unit was Mrs. Rose B. Perkins. That energetic lady also chaired the Home Service Committee and the Soldiers and Sailors Christmas Parcel Committee. The first Red Cross drive was under the direction of Mrs. Henderson, the second in December of 1918 was chaired by Mrs. Walter Skelton. Both drives were very successful.