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Smith River Bridge dedicated to Cpl. Matthew J. Stanley

FAMILY MEMBERS of fallen Army Cpl. Mathew J. Stanley: parents Jim and Lynn Savage and widow, Amy Stanley, are flanked by Governor John Lynch and Dr. Susan Lynch as they stand under the blue sign bearing the new name of the Smith River Bridge to be the Cpl. Mathew J. Stanley Memorial Bridge. (Elissa Paquette photo) (click for larger version)
June 03, 2010
WOLFEBORO — A crowd of about 200 people gathered at the Wright Museum on Memorial Day, May 31, to honor the life of Army Corporal Mathew J. Stanley. Stanley lost his life while on duty in Iraq on Dec. 16, 2006.

Governor John Lynch and his wife, Susan, joined with family members, dignitaries and friends for the signing of RSA 4:43, renaming the Smith River Bridge the Corporal Matthew J. Stanley Memorial Bridge.

State Representative David Knox, in whose Kingswood Regional High School civics class Stanley was a student, led the renaming effort in the legislature and raised money for the signs from both the Republican and Democratic Committees and private individuals. Any excess went into the Mathew Stanley Scholarship Fund intended for graduating high school students noted for service to their community.

Visitors for the ceremony, including children and soldiers from various branches of the military in uniform, filled the chairs at ground level, lined the sides of the room, and surrounded the speakers from positions up in the balcony.

Mark Foynes, Executive Director of the Wright Museum, opened the program and introduced a series of speakers who spoke against the backdrop of the museum's wall-size American flag. Foynes was followed by American Legion Post 18 Commander Harold Chamberlin, Gov. Lynch, State Senator Jeb Bradley, and Knox, whose remarks were followed by a prayer led by Pastor Doug Domin.

All expressed gratitude, not just for Stanley, but also for the willingness of soldiers to risk their lives in support of the freedoms United States citizens enjoy daily. The family and the Governor's wife, Dr. Susan Lynch, then stood from their seats in the front row, advanced to the table beside the podium and surrounded the Governor as he signed the bill into law.

The ceremony moved outdoors, led by Stanley's widow Amy, his mother Lyn Savage, his stepdad Jim Savage and Governor Lynch and his wife. His father, Richard Stanley, and sister, Melissa Stanley Gruney, joined them at the front of the procession to the bridge.

Traffic was halted on either side by Wolfeboro police officers as volunteers, some in military garb, others in civilian clothing including seven-year-old Bailey Savage, son of Jim Savage, Jr. and grandson of Stanley's stepdad, Jim Sr. lined both sides of the bridge with large flags in hand.

The red, white and blue colors waved in the soft breeze under sunny blue skies as Chamberlin led the American Legion in a three gun salute across the river, each man shooting three rounds into the air. As the sound of taps faded, a moment of silence for Stanley and his comrades in arms prevailed.

For the family, there was joy in the honor, mixed with sadness, as Stanley's mother and widow threw a memorial wreath over the bridge and watched it drift in the water below.

Martin Lord Osman
Brewster Academy
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