Carol Meier remembers playing outside her Brighton home when her grandmother ran outside clutching a telegram with grim news from the World War II battlefield of Normandy: Her uncle, Richard Kane, was dead.
Saturday, some 68 years later, the intersection just down the block from their Harriet Street house was renamed Richard L. Kane Square. Though Meier was only 5 when Kane died, she beamed with pride talking about her family’s “hero square.”
“I always go through here for old times’ sake,” Meier, 74, said of driving by the street she and Kane grew up on. “It really makes you feel good. You feel honored.”
Kane began active duty in the Army on July 31, 1942, just a few months after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. He was a part of the D-day invasion of 1944 and died five weeks after the beach assault at the age of 29.
Richard Kane Clarke, one of Kane’s nephews, said his mother always believed Kane was killed by sniper fire. For his efforts in Tunisia, Sicily, and Normandy, Kane received a Purple Heart, a Bronze Star for combat valor, a First Oak Leaf Cluster — the equivalent of a second Bronze Star — and several other medals, all posthumously.
The hero squares first appeared in Boston during World War I, for veterans killed in action, and today there are more than 1,200 across the city, said Francisco A. Ureña , commissioner of the city Veterans Services Department.
“I want to show the importance of each and every one of them,” Ureña said. “Think about it — 1,200 men and women did not come home after leaving, so that’s why this is important.”
Kane’s white cross at the American cemetery overlooking the Omaha Beach battleground is one of more than 9,300 at the Normandy site.At least 17 men from his division died with Kane on July 13, according to the American Battle Monuments Commission website.
“He died serving his country,” said Mayor Thomas M. Menino at the dedication. “He earned our city’s eternal gratitude for his sacrifice.”
The process of getting a location dedicated for a fallen family member is “extremely easy,” Ureña said.
The family contacts the Veterans Services Department, their city councilor sponsors the effort, a sign is made, and the dedication can happen in a matter of weeks.
This square, however, spawned from an inquisitive child’s questions eight years ago. Clarke began noticing different areas around the city dedicated after his son asked about Kane.
“He was a veteran and in the war,” Clarke said. “You see a lot of other places dedicated, so I thought it was appropriate. He paid the ultimate price.”
Last year, Clarke contacted Veterans Services to get the process underway. The dedication was delayed to get it as close to the anniversary of Kane’s death as possible. It was the 12th hero square dedication in the last six months, Ureña said.
“It’s so important that every generation knows the generation before them, and what their sacrifices were,” said Mark Ciommo, the city councilor who sponsored the Kane Square dedication. “It’s great to take a breath and reflect on those sacrifices and those folks.”