CONCORD — A century after American doughboys returned home from Europe, members of a local Masonic lodge Sunday opened a time capsule left behind by World War I veterans containing a memento of their military service.
The time capsule included instructions to open it on Nov. 11, 2018 — 100 years after the end of the war. And as world leaders honored the deaths of soldiers on both sides of that global conflict Sunday, a few hundred people gathered inside Concord’s Corinthian Lodge of Freemasons to watch as a service flag was unveiled for the first time publicly since 1920.
“It’s really touching, and it just drives home the connection that we have from then to now,” said Doug Ellis, past master of the lodge and its current treasurer.
During the ceremony, Gregory Fulton, the worshipful master of the lodge, removed the service flag from its copper container — a tube around a foot long.
The ceremony was intended to recognize the service of veterans, he said.
“We are honoring them today, as well as other veterans from Concord and around the country,” Fulton said.
The flag — still a brilliant red rectangle, despite its age — featured a white field that displayed stars representing each Concord lodge member who joined the US military during World War I.
Most of those stars were blue, except for two gold stars intended to recognize the deaths of two lodge members during their military service.
Ellis said a researcher from Ireland contacted him earlier this year about the sinking of a ship during the war. One of the men who died when the ship sank was a Concord lodge member who had left home to fight in Europe, and Ellis began looking through records to learn more about him.
That’s when he discovered records that showed the lodge, in 1920, had left behind the time capsule. For about a month, he searched the lodge building in downtown Concord, and he discovered the historic packaged tucked away inside a locked cabinet in the library, he said.
At the end of the ceremony, the service flag was placed back in its container to be sealed away for another century inside a new time capsule. Along with the flag are coins commemorating the military and the lodge, a US flag, newspapers, a bottle of whiskey, and other mementos.
Local members of the Daughters of the American Revolution also included the names of 25 Concord residents who died serving in the military during World War I.
Deborah Fritz, with the group’s Concord chapter, said that it was important to remember the military service of past veterans.
“The root of this country is the sacrifice of all of our veterans [made] in order for us to enjoy the lives we have today,” she said.
Ellis said the new time capsule, like the old one, will help a future generation honor the work of American military members.
“We should always be ready to support our people in service,” Ellis said.John Hilliard can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.