By MARK SARDELLA
WAKEFIELD — The fair skies that greeted those attending yesterday morning’s Memorial Day ceremonies at the West Side Social Club gave way to increasing clouds by the time the town’s afternoon program got underway on Veterans Memorial Common. But Monday’s summer-like weather helped to draw large numbers of local citizens to honor those who died in service of their country.
The WSSC observance got underway promptly at 10 a.m. at Moulton Park with Sean Curran presiding. Curran, a Marine Corps veteran of Desert Storm and a lieutenant with the Wakefield Fire Department, told of the “extremely emotional experience” he had when visiting Pearl Harbor while he and his wife were honeymooning in Hawaii.
“How would our country and this world be different,” Curran asked, “if everyone remembered that our freedoms come at a very high price.”
Curran introduced WSSC President Peter Hubbard.
“We are here today to honor out service men and women and remember the sacrifice they made for honor, duty and country,” Hubbard said. “It is you who have made the American way of life possible for the rest of us. Thank you for answering the call of duty and we honor you for protecting our great nation.”
Town Administrator Stephen P. Maio brought the greetings from the Board of Selectmen and the town.
“This ceremony is particularly wonderful,” Maio observed, “with the expression of life and the dedication of the trees surrounding a place where children play.”
Following the rededication of those 29 trees planted in memory of fallen heroes, Curran introduced keynote speaker Alicia Reddin, Wakefield’s Veterans Service Officer. A U.S. Navy veteran, Reddin earned the Global War on Terrorism Medal while serving with the Navy Mobile Construction Battalion.
Reddin spoke of losing a shipmate while she was deployed as a heavy equipment operator in Guam.
“Just a few weeks before our tour was complete – on March 15, 2007 Gunner’s Mate second class Jarred Krutke was killed while on duty in the Armory,” Reddin recalled. “He was 24 years old. He left behind his wife Nicole, his infant month-old daughter Elizabeth, a heartbroken family and an entire battalion of Seabees who miss him every single day.
“His daughter is 8 now,” Reddin noted, “close in age to my own daughter – the difference being that Elizabeth only knows Jarred through other people’s memories. This death was particularly difficult to manage. His life was taken by a fellow sailor who was suffering from a mental illness, an invisible wound.
“Each Veteran here today has lost a comrade or a shipmate,” Reddin said. “They were our brothers and sisters. As a result we have each lost a piece of ourselves.”
Following a 1 p.m. parade down Main Street from the Galvin Middle School, the town’s Memorial Day exercises got underway in front to the World War II Monument on Veterans Memorial Common.
American Legion Commander Thomas Collins served as master of ceremonies and called Rev. Bruce Lomas, Rector of Trinity Church in Melrose for the invocation.
Following the National Anthem sung by Wakefield High School Senior Adam Tarpey, Collins introduced Selectman Phyllis Hull.
“I am humbled by the fact that our veterans of all wars sacrificed so much so that we could be here today, free,” Hull said. “They deserve to be remembered not only today but every day.”
Hull said that she especially remembered her husband, John Hull, a Marine, and her brother Joseph Marangi, who received the Purple Heart for injuries he sustained during the invasion of Normandy.
State Rep. Paul Brodeur noted that on Memorial Day, “We honor and remember all who served but we especially pay tribute to those who died in military service and resolve to keep them close to our hearts. Thank you to you and your families for your service.”
Rep Donald Wong said that honoring veterans should be a daily occurrence.
“Every day that we get up and open our eyes,” Wong said, “we should say, ‘Thank God for the Armed Forces and our veterans.’”
Wong then read a Memorial Day proclamation for Wakefield sent by Governor Charlie Baker.
Collins introduced featured speaker Wakefield VSO Alicia Reddin.
“The greatest glory of a free nation,” Reddin said, “is the ability to transmit our freedom to our children. But we must remember, there is always a price and it was paid with the lives and sacrifices of the brave men and women who cannot be here with us today. The ones who didn’t come home. It is our duty and responsibility to ensure that the traditions surrounding Memorial Day are preserved and carried on through our children and their children.”
Reddin then read a proclamation officially designating Wakefield as a “Purple Heart Community.”
“The purpose of the Purple Heart designation is to create a symbolic and honorary system of roads, highways, bridges, that give tribute to the men and women who have been awarded the Purple Heart medal,” Reddin said.
“This is accomplished by creating a visual reminder to those who travel through Wakefield that others have paid a high price for their freedom to travel and live in a free society.”
Reddin noted that “Purple Heart Community” signs will be posted at main entry points to Wakefield and decals will be placed on street signs of every street coming off Main Street.
“This designation not only speaks to the dedication of the men and women who have earned the Purple Heart,” Reddin said, “but also to the Town of Wakefield’s dedication to serving and honoring all veterans.”