Weweantic neighbors celebrate the opening of Lukey Community Park on Veterans Day
The legacy of a Wareham World War II veteran will live on following the rededication of Lukey Community Park on Hathaway Street.
On Saturday, residents of the town’s Weweantic neighborhood gathered alongside friends and family of Major Philip E. Lukey for the ceremony.
The park, which had fallen into disrepair, was rebuilt this fall with the help of volunteers and $175,000 of Community Preservation Act funds.
The effort was spearheaded by Renee Moniz and Amanda Bell Smith who led Saturday’s ceremony. The first phase of the park is complete and features play equipment for children ages 2 to 12. The park isn’t complete yet and plans call for the addition of a basketball court and a walking trail. Both are slated to be installed this spring.
“It took a village to make this happen,” said Smith.
Joan Lukey, Philip’s daughter, spoke about her father’s time as a prisoner of war and his contributions to town life after the war.
He fought on the European front and survived both the bombing of London and the invasion of Normandy. Later, he was captured and incarcerated in a German prisoner of war camp.
He escaped and found refuge in Brussels where he hid with a family until the Allies liberated Belgium.
“At least in his daughter’s eyes he was a World War II hero,” said Lukey.
Back at home, he remained in the military for many years and helped turn a former Army base on Cape Cod into the Otis Air Force Base.
Locally, he was active in the American Legion and served as post commander.
He died in 1981 at the age of 65. Lukey said her father’s death was brought on by an old war wound, a piece of shrapnel lodged in his lung, that never fully healed.
Lukey said she was grateful the park will remain a place for children to play, including her grandson when he’s old enough.
“I have an 11 week old grandson and as soon as he’s able to walk this will be the first playground he’ll visit,” said Lukey.