In the American Legion Hall in Edgartown, there are two wall displays of town veterans who have served their country. One is new, the other is old. The one that is old shows more than 100 photographs of town veterans who served in World War II. The pictures are black and white and in remarkably good condition for their age. They are formal in nature and reflect a time when Edgartown was a smaller place, close-knit and personal.
The second photo mural is different. It was just recently completed and includes plenty of space for more faces. The pictures are in color and reflect a different age of veterans, beginning with the Viet Nam era and including all wars and military conflicts since.
The display case is made from mahogany and was crafted by Mike Hewitt, 51, who served in the U.S. Army and participated in the Granada invasion. He now works as an Island builder. Mr. Hewitt and Viet Nam era veterans Paul Schultz and Tom Bennett have been reaching out to Edgartown veterans and their families for pictures to hang. There are many more people who could be represented in the display case, they say, and the hard part is finding the photographs.
Mr. Bennett said the display is an extension of an earlier project that established an Edgartown veterans memorial plaque for those who have served since the Viet Nam war on the small lawn next to the county courthouse. Their hope with this new project is to add faces to the names listed on the courthouse lawn plaque.
Like Mr. Hewitt and Mr. Schultz, Mr. Bennett grew up in Edgartown. He is associate executive and senior clinical advisor for Martha’s Vineyard Community Services.
Mr. Schultz retired this year as an assistant superintendent for The Trustees of Reservations on Chappaquiddick.
The three men said the photo collection is more than assembling a list of names and pictures, but also a way to connect family and friends.
In the center of the collection there is a picture of Danny Bettencourt, a U.S. Marine who was killed in Viet Nam in 1967. Arranged around the photograph are four of his brothers, who also served in the military: Peter, Bruce, Mike and Johnny.
“It takes you back to Edgartown. It takes you back to the community and family. That is the most valuable part. It is about an Island connection, a thread that brings us all together,” Mr. Bennett said.
“It is going back and it is satisfying,” Mr. Hewitt said.
“We feel good about it,” said Mr. Bennett.