The Old North Church is delighted to house multiple gardens on its campus as spaces for reflection, contemplation, and prayer.
18th Century Garden
St. Francis of Assisi Garden
Washington Memorial Garden
The Third Lantern Garden
The Memorial Garden
In 2006, Old North Church and its neighbors created the nation’s first public memorial honoring American lives lost in the conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, and the greater war on terror. This memorial has evolved over time. The original design was much simpler. Individual wooden “popsicle stick” crosses and Stars of David were marked with individual soldiers’ names and then were glued to trellises. Very quickly, however, it became apparent that a more durable and permanent monument was needed, one that could reflect the escalating number of fallen service members.
A committee of church members and neighbors conceived a design of blank dog-tags (representing the number of fallen Americans) hung on chains strung between fenceposts. The posts would form a semi-circle with a small garden within the circle, and a walkway and meditation bench along the perimeter.
Ground was broken mid-May of 2007 with the setting of the fence posts and walkway. During the weekend prior to Memorial Day 2007, a table was set up and approximately 3,500 dog-tags were strung with the assistance of visitors recruited as they walked through the courtyard. On Memorial Day, the Old North Memorial Garden was dedicated.
In November 2018, a bronze plaque was added as well as a bronze poppy wreath to remember fallen British and Commonwealth soldiers.
Today, whenever an American serviceperson is killed in these conflicts, a dog-tag is hung by an Old North volunteer. The tags represent, as closely as possible, the total number of deaths. The thousands upon thousands of tags are a haunting reminder of the toll war takes on families and communities.
Visitors are welcome to touch the dog-tags respectfully, walk behind the memorial on the pathway, and take a moment to reflect and pray on the bench provided. They may notice, if the wind stirs, a light chime as the tags move against one another.