About 100 people gathered recently to dedicate a newly-restored memorial site in Brighton honoring a neighborhood resident who was killed in action in France during World War II while trying to help a friend and fellow soldier who had been shot.
The US Army Private First Class Stanley Norman Kaplan Memorial was rededicated during an afternoon ceremony on Friday, Oct. 25, said Boston Police Sergeant Michael C. O’Hara.
The crowd included including Boston Police Honor Guard officials, Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps members from Brighton High School along with local political, religious, veterans services and community leaders.
The site, which features a large stone monument on a grassy area near the intersection of Commonwealth Avenue and Washington Street, was recently renovated an reconditioned “in a respectful manner” after about two decades of neglect led to some damage, O’Hara said.
The project was paid for with a $30,000 grant from the city’s Edward Ingersoll Browne Fund and led through a partnership by the Boston Police Department’s District D-14 Community Service Office, the Mayor's Office, City Councilor Mark Ciommo, The Allston-Brighton Historical Society, The Allston-Brighton CDC and Congregation Kadimah-Toras Moshe, he said.
“The effort put forward by the Brighton Community reflects the spirit and commitment to those who have served and sacrificed for our country,” said O’Hara.
Kaplan, 19, died Oct. 10, 1944. He had lived at 124 Washington St. in Brighton before volunteering to enlist in the Army’s in E Company, 104th Infantry Regiment, 26th Infantry, or “Yankee” Division.
According to the National Gold Star Family Registry, Kaplan was active in the Boy Scouts as a young man.
“One of the most memorable stories of Stanley as a Boy Scout leader occurred when he took his scouts on a camping trip,” the registry says. “The children were playing with matches and one of the scouts lit another child on fire. When Stanley tried to put the fire out by rolling the child in the dirt, he caught fire himself. He burned his uniform in the process and had to wear the burnt uniform for the remainder of the trip. He was content knowing he possibly saved the child's life.”
At a family dinner in Miami before heading off to serve, someone asked Kaplan why he volunteered to enlist instead of waiting to possibly be drafted. He responded: "Because I am a Jew,” the registry said.
“During the fighting, Stanley saw one of his friends get hit by enemy fire and ran to his aid,” the registry says. “In the process of trying to help his friend, Stanley was shot and killed.”
In Brighton, an epitaph inscribed on his memorial reads: “A good son, A good Boy Scout, A good soldier.”