EAST MADISON — On a quiet straw-covered corner off East Madison Road sits a simple memorial to the town’s veterans.

The former site of the Mill Pond General Store, the corner was home to a bustling grocery and convenience store for about 100 years before a poor economy led to the store’s closure in 2010. The building sat vacant and boarded up while the owner failed to pay taxes and the town took over the property, eventually deciding to demolish the structure.

Meanwhile, a memorial to the town’s veterans was close to falling off an eroding bank and into the Mill Stream across the street. The memorial, a simple boulder with an engraved plaque on it, seemed in danger of meeting the same fate as the store. Yet it remained special to at least one family in town. The plaque is dedicated in particular to Cpl. Joseph G. L. Quirion Jr., an Army soldier who died in the Vietnam War. His father and brother live nearby.

For years 89-year-old Joseph Quirion Sr. mowed the lawn around the memorial, eventually letting his oldest son and members of the American Legion assume the care for the spot. They were worried about its proximity to the stream, and so the town recently agreed to move the memorial to the site of the demolished store. They’ve planted new grass, built a stone path leading up to the memorial and erected a new flag pole.

On Monday, Memorial Day, members of the American Legion honored veterans with a wreath-laying ceremony at the new memorial.

“It’s nice. I think it’s great of the town to have done this,” Joseph Quirion Sr. said. All three of his sons — Rodney, who lives in Canaan now; David, who also lives in East Madison; and Joseph Jr., served in the military. A daughter, Cindy Daigle of Madison, was also at Monday’s ceremony, and another daughter, Elizabeth Quirion, lives near Sanford.

Joseph Quirion Sr. is also a veteran, having spent four years in the Navy in World War II.

Like his father, Joseph Jr. enrolled in the service shortly after turning 18. He attended Madison Area High School but had not graduated and had been in Vietnam for about a year when he was killed. Quirion was a member of Delta Company, Second Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment and is said to have died from injuries he received during an explosion.

His mother, Marjorie Fletcher Quirion, who died in 2006, had begged him not to join the army.

“At the time recruiters were going around trying to get people to sign up for the service,” Quirion said. “He wanted the army, so he went, but he never made it back.”

The Mill Pond General Store, which was just yards away from Quirion’s house, was East Madison’s only retail business when it closed in 2010. It was acquired by the town when the property owner failed to pay taxes, and last year selectmen voted to demolish the building along with the former Weston Avenue School. That site has since been converted into an ice skating rink.

The memorial plaque dedicated to Quirion sits on a large stone and was erected shortly after his death on April 3, 1968. He earned two purple hearts while in Vietnam, once after being shot in the shoulder and the second he received posthumously.

Quirion says he doesn’t remember the exact year but said that he attended the original dedication, where the high school principal at the time said the dedication and the song “The Green Grass of Home” was sung.

It’s where the Quirion family goes every Memorial Day. They’ve also spent years taking care of the grounds around the memorial. Quirion, who worked for the Norwock Shoe Factory for 29 years and Dexter Shoe Company for 10 years, said he used to mow the grass, but after having two heart attacks and being diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, it’s not so easy. The lawn mowing is usually done by one of his sons or the American Legion now, he said.

“I think it’s fantastic,” said Cindy Daigle, of the new memorial. “There’s so much room and it’s great that everyone comes here. People have been coming for years and years.”

The Madison memorial was one of three stops the Legion made on Monday on a tour of area veterans memorials. “Our veterans are real people with real families who lived in real communities like ours,” said Rep. Brad Farrin, R-Norridgewock, a guest speaker at the ceremony. “The best way to honor their sacrifice is to remember their families.”

At his house on Mill Pond Road, Quirion’s refrigerator is filled with photos of his family, including a black-and-white one of Joseph Jr. when he was about seven years old with his dog, Judy. The flag pole and memorial are barely visible through the trees.

The living room contains a case of Joseph Jr.’s military medals and several more pictures of him, including one of him in his Army uniform that he sent from Vietnam. A laminated copy of a tribute posted by the 35th Infantry Regiment Association says that Quirion died in Kontum Province, Vietnam.

“I don’t know what his plans would have been if he would have come home,” his father said.

Quirion said that Joseph Jr. would write to him and Marjorie while in Vietnam looking out over the Pacific Ocean. One time, he said a lieutenant turned to his son and said, ‘You know Joe, this is just like shooting deer in Maine.”

“He said ‘Oh no, the deer don’t shoot back,'” Quirion said. “I really don’t know what he had planned for coming home, but I imagine it’d be good.”

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368

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Twitter: @rachel_ohm