Sunday, May 24, 2009

Dickran Diran

Eighty years ago, on Memorial Day, May 30, 1929, Dickran Diran Square at Lakeville was dedicated to the memory of the town's sole World War I casualty in a simple, though moving, ceremony. Featured was the joint dedication of Dickran Diran Square and Lakeville's World War I Honor Roll which stands in the square in front of the Lakeville Town House. At the time, the following eulogy to Diran was delivered by Clarence M. Gurney of Simeon Nickerson Post No. 64 of the American Legion:

At this point in today’s activities, we assemble here to honor the memory of, and dedicate this square to Dickran Diran, the only citizen from the Town of Lakeville who was killed in action during the World War.

Notwithstanding the late entry of the United States into the World war, there is scarcely a town in the country that did not sacrifice, at least the life of one citizen, in that great conflict.

Cities and towns are rapidly adopting the idea of dedicating public places to the memory of such citizens, and it is a most commendable idea.

A marker of bronze is erected, years may come and years may go, but as the elements of time fail to destroy, or lessen, the admiration and respect now held for those heroes.

Early in the month of October, 1917, within a stone’s throw of where we now stand, Dickran Diran called to receive his outfit provided by the Soldiers’ Aid of this town. As far as can be learned, this was his last act before leaving this town in answer to his adopted country’s call, and his last words will never be forgotten by those who heard them, I trust, that by you too they will be forever remembered, he said, “Whatever I do, Lakeville will never be ashamed of me.”

“Whatever I do, Lakeville will never be ashamed of me,” let us remember those words of Dickran Diran.

He was a stranger to many in this town, his residence in the town of Lakeville, prior to his service in the army, was less than one year, but that is of little importance, he is the man who said, “Whatever I do, Lakeville will never be ashamed of me.”

What did he do? He gave his life for his country. What more could he do? No, Lakeville will never be ashamed of Dickran Diran, and attests to that fact by placing here this bronze marker, and dedicating this spot to his memory.

I have tried to get an outline of the life of Dickran Diran, and briefly this is what I found.

Dickran Diran was born in Armenia, May 4, 1889, he came to the United States in the year 1902, was educated in the public schools of this country, graduating from Dorchester High School, after which he went to work for Weber Brothers, in Wrentham, was with them a number of years, when he decided to start in business for himself.

He came to Lakeville and located on the farm now owned by William Wright, about one-half mile north of Lakeville station on Bedford street, here he laid his plans for the future, and here, in less than one year, he laid down the ambition of his life, for the service of his country.

The call to the colors came October 4, 1917. With several other residents of this town he went to Camp Devens, Mass., and was located there about one month, his life there I could not follow closely, but I will only give to you the exact words of one who served there with him and who later came in contact with him several times. After we had talked for some few minutes about Dickran Diran, this man said, “No matter what you say, you cannot say anything good enough about Dick.” It would be futile for me to try to improve on such a statement.

His service in Camp Gordan, Georgia and overseas, was hard to follow owing to the fact that he was separated from local men, but his official record on file with the War Department shows that promotion came fast, which indicates ambition, perseverance, the things we would expect from the man who said, “Whatever I do, Lakeville will never be ashamed of me.”

He was wounded in action, August 8, 1918, and killed in action October 16, 1918, his body was returned to the United States and buried in the “Field of Beulah Section” of Forest Hills cemetery, February 5, 1922. Funeral services were conducted in the Stanton avenue church at Dorchester, the Rev. Wilbar Choffee officiating.

I will now read you the official military record of Dickran Diran as furnished by the office of the adjutant general of the army, through the courtesy of Hon. Joseph W. Martin, Jr., representative in Congress, for this Congressional District:

Dickran Diran, Sergeant, Company “G”, 327th Infantry.
Resident of Lakeville, Massachusetts.
Army Serial Number 1907022
Inducted into military service October 4, 1917.
Forwarded to Camp Devens, Mass., assigned as private to the 3rd Additional Company, Depot Brigade.
Transferred November 10, 1917 to Camp Gordan, Georgia.
Appointed Corporal, December 12, 1917.
Left the United States April 25, 1918, for service overseas, with Co. “G” 327th Infantry.
Appointed Sergeant, July 7, 1918.
Wounded in action August 8, 1918.
Killed in action October 16, 1918, on Hill 180, near Cornay, France.

It is with reluctance that I speak of his death. His body, twisted and torn, fell to the blood stained soil of France where it was buried, later to be moved to the United States, and now rests quietly in the shade of Forest Hills – his soul has gone to his God – there is no death, there.

Dickran Diran, my departed comrade, Lakeville will never be ashamed of you.

.Illustrations from top to bottom:

Red, White and Blue Club, photograph, May 30, 1929.
Red, White and Blue Club members Jeannette Bassett, Cynthia Caswell, Helen Hoard and Bertha Stiles flank the Lakeville Honor Roll, behind which flies the town's World War I service flag.

Dickran Diran Square dedication ceremony, photograph, May 30, 1929.
Members of Simeon Nickerson Post No. 64, American Legion stand at attention at the start of the dedications services.

Flag raising, Dickran Diran Square and Lakeville Honor Roll dedication ceremony, photograph, May 30, 1929.
Ceremonies open with a flag raising on the Lakeville Library Lawn by the Girl and Boy Scouts, while Francis Goodridge sounds "Colors".

Red, White and Blue Club, photograph, May 30, 1929.
Members of the Red, White and Blue Club, which had been formed during World War I and which following that time had been responsible for overseeing Memorial Day exercises, sing "The Vacant Chair." The signpost dedicating the square to Diran is draped with an American flag.

Rev. Chellis V. Smith and Red, White and Blue Club, photograph, May 30, 1929.
Following the eulogy to Dickran Diran and the dedication of Dickran Diran Square, the Lakeville Honor Roll was unveiled. The service included a keynote address by Reverend Chellis V. Smith of the First Baptist Church of Hyde Park, Boston. Here, he stands next to the memorial along with Jeanette Bassett, Cynthia Caswell, Helen Hoard and Bertha Stiles.

Mr. and Mrs. Suren Diran, photograph, May 30, 1929.
Diran's brother and sister-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. Suren Diran, in attendance at the dedication ceremony.


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