Published in the May 31, 2016 edition.
By MARK SARDELLA
WAKEFIELD – For the first time in many years, Wakefield’s Memorial Day observances were driven indoors by yesterday’s rain. But the weather did not dampen the spirit of those who organized and attended those ceremonies held at the West Side Social Club and the Galvin Middle School.
Normally held at 10 a.m. on Moulton Field, the West Side Social Club moved its program into the club’s Anderson Hall.
Master of ceremonies Sean Curran got the proceedings off on a personal note.
“I’d like to take this opportunity to say how proud I am to come from a community that continues to raise the type of people who are not afraid to sign on the dotted line and go off into the unknown to protect our interests and the comfortable way of life that we have become accustomed to here in the United States of America,” Curran said.
He specifically mentioned one of those people, his cousin Richard Cardavelli, a Wakefield firefighter and helicopter pilot with the Massachusetts Army National Guard who will be deploying to Iraq in a few days where he will be flying medevac missions for the next year or so.
“To Chief Warrant Officer Cardavelli and the other members of Charlie Company, we wish you Godspeed,” Curran said.
Curran introduced Selectman Peter May who brought the greetings from the town.
“In order for our country to be vital and prosper in the future,” May said, “we must have a strong grasp of our past. Knowing history is critical.”
May briefly discussed the history of Memorial Day, from its origins as Decoration Day just after the Civil War to 1971 when it officially became a national holiday “to commemorate those who died fighting for our country.”
“Our freedoms that we enjoy today,” May concluded, “are due in large part to our strong military and local law enforcement, used wisely, to protect them.”
West Side Social Club President Michael Delory offered a few words on behalf of the club.
“Memorial Day,” Delory said, “is meant to be a solemn day of reflection on the sad but true fact that this country was formed by, and is still protected by, the courage, blood and lives of our armed forces.”
Curran introduced keynote speaker Commander Robert Vincent, a retired Judge Advocate General (JAG) with the U.S. Navy who served in many leadership positions in his long military career and was awarded numerous medals including the Legion of Merit and the Meritorious Service Medal.
Vincent said that growing up in the Washington, D.C. area, his parents instilled in him a deep appreciation for military service that included attending Memorial Day services in the nation’s capital.
When he and his wife first moved to Wakefield, Vincent said, he was impressed by the town’s reverence for its veterans.
He said that one of the first things he noticed were the “multitude of monuments dedicated to Wakefield military personnel” on Veterans Memorial Common. He was also impressed by Wakefield’s longstanding tradition of Memorial Day observances at the WSSC and on the Common.
“The town of Wakefield,” Vincent said, “serves as a shining example of what a community should do.”
Due to the wet weather, the afternoon ceremonies normally held in front of the World War II Monument were moved indoors to Veterans Memorial Auditorium at the Galvin Middle School.
Director of Veterans Services Alicia Reddin served as master of ceremonies. A color guard of Wakefield Boy Scouts posted the flags and American Legion Post 63 Commander Thomas Collins led the Pledge of Allegiance. Wakefield High School junior Emily Cierpial sang the National Anthem.
The Invocation was offered by Rev. Dr. Bruce Taylor of the Wakefield Unitarian Universalist Church.
Selectman Paul DiNocco spoke on behalf of the town.
“We are here today in remembrance of those service members who made sacrifices to duty and honor and country,” DiNocco said. “Because of their courage and dedication, we are here today to recognize that courage and thank them.”
After the Wakefield Wind Ensemble performed “America the Beautiful,” former Wakefield selectman and U.S. Army veteran John Carney delivered the keynote address.
He talked about being drafted at age 19 in October of 1965, at the height of the Vietnam War. He talked about each of the men from Wakefield who were killed in that war. He also talked of local Vietnam War heroes, like Purple Heart recipient Glenn Beasley, who was shot three times and returned home to Wakefield in November of 1970 to no fanfare, just a family grateful for his safe return.
Carney closed by asking some hard questions.
“I ask you,” Carney said, “would allow your child to volunteer to fight the war against terror — or even better would you be in favor of reinstituting the draft? Since the Baby Boomer generation ended there are not ample volunteers to protect our liberties. If you think not it is time for some soul searching.
“I leave you with this final thought,” Carney said. “Think of the consequences of sending someone else’s son or daughter to fight a war you would not want to sacrifice your own loved ones for. It is easy to be patriotic when you have no skin in the game.”