Harwich Overpass Named After Lost WWII Soldier

sk_harwich-burnsbridge-dedication_10-8-16-103HARWICH – The friends and family of Navy Lieutenant Junior Grade Ralph W. Burns, MIA/KIA, were joined by active and retired members of the armed forces Saturday morning to devote the Route 124-Route 6 overpass bridge to the fallen townsman.

The effort was instigated by the nonprofit Bridges for the Fallen and followed up with legislation co-written by Representative Sarah Peake.

Richard Houston, Monomoy Regional High School teacher and a former teacher at Harwich High School, was a friend of Ralph Burns’ now-deceased son, and said that he adamantly supports the work of Bridges for the Fallen.

“I see each of the names on the bridges as a bridge to the past, making sure that we understand the sacrifice underlying the freedom and democracy that we enjoy,” he said. “When you remember the fallen, it is important to have that local connection.”

Houston recalled a line from Abraham Lincoln’s address at Gettysburg: “It is for us, the living, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced.”

“Lincoln is talking to us still 150 years later, and may this bridge remind us of that each time we pass over it,” Houston said.

Burns’ grandson, Rusty Burns, travelled all the way from Denmark with his family for the ceremony, and even brought his grandfather’s Purple Heart.

The crowd erupted in applause, while Rusty explained how the medal is proudly displayed in his home.

One of the key organizers of the dedication, Rob Mador, related the story of how he first met Skip Burns, the son of Ralph.

He said he came upon a car with a Gold Star Family bumper sticker in the nearby Shaws parking lot which he did not recognize, and struck up an impromptu conversation with its driver, Skip.

Although Skip himself passed away before he could see the project finalized this weekend, his son Rusty said he would have been extremely proud of the effort.

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