Date: October 22, 2016
“You will hear words this morning in memory of an involved citizen, one who had an aspirational view for the greatness and goodness of America before ever there was a United States as an independent country. You will hear of competence, leadership, and heroism. As Warren’s biographer, I will add something of the man and of the person – his humor and wit.
As a young physician Warren visited Connecticut in 1766, pursuing a plan to build a sanitarium based on a mineral spring.
Warren likely penned this anecdote at the time: “The story is told of a number of people who hired a man to go to Stafford, Connecticut, to bring back mineral water. He filled a thirty-gallon cask, sold the water all the way back to Massachusetts at one dollar per gallon, and by refilling it at each brook along the route, managed to dispose of one hundred and sixty gallons… [T]he people believing it genuine, soon found the salutary effects thereof.”
The humorous story had a purpose. It draws the listener to the conclusion that if you are to be cured by the waters of Stafford, you must physically go there.
As fate would have it, little became of Warren’s interest in Stafford Spa. He evidently decided that his new Patriot friends, those at St. Andrew’s Lodge, and he himself were not generally of the spa-going sort.
About seventy-five miles southwest of Boston, it was the furthest he was ever to venture from home. But words, thoughts, and deeds toward being a better person and aimed at building a just society, have a way of going further than three score and fifteen milestones along a New England country road.
Wit and humor were part of Warren’s appeal, convivial for friends and bridging over to opponents. He got serious things done and often had an infectiously light touch in doing so. As Masonic brother Perez Morton said in a previous eulogy of Warren in 1776, “…he had the happy talent of addressing his subject both to the understanding and the passions; from the one he forced conviction, from the other he stole assent.”
So here we are, in the 275th year after Warren’s birth, gathered from far and wide to commemorate and perhaps to emulate Joseph Warren. We remember the devoted family member; notable physician; engaged citizen; leading Mason; and, sadly, the heroic American Founder who helped lay the foundation for a new nation he did not live to see.”
Source: Samuel Forman’s remarks as part of the dedication ceremony at Forest Hills Cemetery, Saturday, October 22, 2016. In the photograph Grand Master Waugh is about to unveil the statue, which is perched on a Roxbury puddingstone outcropping anchoring the Warren family grave sites. Descendant George Wildrick, the tall fellow with a beard, stands immediately beside the speaker.
Commentary: Mine was one of several speeches and remarks delivered before an audience of hundreds of Masons and other well-wishers gathered at Forest Hills Cemetery for the dedication and unveiling of the new bronze statue adorning Joseph Warren’s memorial. The keynote address was by the Grand Master of the Massachusetts Grand Lodge, Most Worshipful Harvey J. Waugh. Warren descendant George Wildrick, representing the family, shared words of encouragement for those pursuing creative works telling Warren’s story for modern audiences in a variety of media and venues. Intermittent rain did not dissuade an enthusiastic crowd, the largest I have ever seen for an historical figure interred at Forest Hills.
The bronze statue is by sculptor Robert Schure of Skylight Studios. It is a modern reinterpretation of one by Bartlett dating to 1904. Previous entries here on DrJosephWarren.com provide further details. Masons particularly responsible for creation of the new statue, and working with Forest Hills and the Warren family to revitalize the gravesite, include Robert Vartanian, Stanley Gaw, and Glenn Kubick.