Wakefield, Massachusetts Honors Its War Dead

01Jun10

Crowds Turn Out for Memorial Day Observances
A bright, sun-filled sky and seasonable temperatures greeted those who attended yesterday morning’s Memorial Day observance at the West Side Social Club and the afternoon ceremonies on Wakefield Common.

“Memorial Day is a time to reflect on the sacrifices and service of American soldiers and veterans,” Chief Warrant Officer John McCune told those in attendance at the WSSC’s morning program at Mouton Field.
Chief Warrant Officer John McCune
As keynote speaker at yesterday’s WSSC event, Wakefield native McCune talked about the significant meaning that Memorial Day had for him as an Army Reserve officer attached to the Pentagon.

He recalled arriving at the Pentagon just 18 hours after the 9/11 attacks. “All I have to do is close my eyes and see the Pentagon and the World Trade Center,” McCune said. “Now I understand how soldiers in World War II felt when they talked about Pearl Harbor.”

McCune also remembered the October morning in 2005 when he was at the Pentagon listening to the daily Iraq casualty reports and heard the name of Staff Sgt. Joseph P. Bellavia of Wakefield. McCune talked about the tears he shed when he spoke later to his friend, Joseph F. Bellavia, the soldier’s father.
Memorial Day 2010 - Wakefield, Massachusetts
“There’s a lot more to the story,” McCune said, “but war touches us all.”

Bringing the greetings of the town, vice chairman of the Board of Selectmen Patrick Glynn praised the West Side Social Club as “one of the most charitable organizations in Wakefield.” Glynn particularly lauded the WSSC for its dedication over the years in honoring veterans on Memorial Day.

“As a selectman, I’ve come to better appreciate the community spirit of Wakefield,” Glynn said. “The West Side Social Club has become much more than a social club. It is a place where community spirit, charity and remembrance are embraced.”
Veterans' graves, Wakefield, MA
WSSC past President Edward Muse served as master of ceremonies and told of a World War I helmet that he had in his bedroom as a Wakefield youth. The helmet had the name “Meuse” and some other information written on it, but its origin and owner were unknown to Ed Muse until recently when research led him to a local cemetery and the grave of Corporal John T. Meuse.

“On Friday,” Muse said, “I had some personal closure. I placed a flag on my uncle’s grave in the veterans’ section of Forest Glade Cemetery.”

Melrose Alderman Monica Medeiros spoke of the outstanding qualities of love, fortitude, courage and sacrifice as exhibited by veterans that have enabled Americans to enjoy “freedom, equality, opportunity and security here at home.”

WSSC president Tom Rawson introduced his grandson Noah, who read a poem, “Home of the Brave.”

Singer Carissa Scudieri of Wakefield, a junior at Berklee College of Music, performed a cappella “The National Anthem” “Amazing Grace” and “God Bless America.”

After a short parade down Main Street from the Galvin Middle School, the town’s Memorial Day observance began at 1:30 p.m. on the Upper Common under the auspices of local American Legion Post 63.
After leading the large crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance, Commander Thomas Collins introduced Albert J. Turco, chairman of the Board of Selectmen.
Selectman Albert J. Turco
“We pause today to honor and remember one million Americans who died in combat to establish and preserve our freedom,” Turco said, citing the sacrifices of soldiers in wars from the American Revolution to the present war on Islamic terrorism.

“The enemies of our country sometimes mistake our tolerance for softness or mistake our openness for indiscipline,” Turco said. “But our enemies underestimate us at their peril. For more than 200 years, ordinary men and women committed to liberty, equality and the preservation of our republic have protected and defended the rest of us. The least we can do today is to honor and remember those who served in the past and support those who are bravely serving our country today.”

Rep. Katherine Clark called on everyone to “honor those who laid down their lives.” Clark noted that when they went to war most soldiers were not much older than the WHS Marching Band students who played the patriotic music at yesterday’s ceremony. “They were willing to give everything so that we could continue our way of life,” Clark said. “They believed in the values that our country was built on: freedom, equality and justice.”
A Veteran Salutes the American Flag
Rep. Mark Falzone said, “The best way that we can honor our heroes and war dead is to prevent future war dead.” He said that we must make sure that our soldiers have what they need in battle and that they have proper health care and benefits when they return home. “We want to make sure that we take care of those who have taken care of us,” Falzone insisted.

Sen. Richard Tisei called Memorial Day “a day to reconnect with our history and core values by honoring those who gave their lives for the ideals that we all cherish. We are a tolerant nation that welcomes diversity and creativity,” Tisei added, noting that for those reasons tens of thousands of people from all over the world “are fighting to come to these shores so they can experience the American Dream.
Sen. Richard Tisei
Tisei noted that the names on Wakefield’s war memorials “indicate a tremendous price that this community has paid over the years to defend this country. We will be forever thankful to them.”

Local resident Eric Estevez said that the importance of Memorial Day must be impressed upon young people. He noted that the effort to build a new World War II Monument was an important step toward that end.

Featured speaker William J. Walsh Jr of the American Legion said that he often thinks of his high school classmates who never returned from Vietnam. “I came back and they didn’t,” he said. “I think of all who are waiting for loved ones to come home.”
William J. Walsh, Jr.
Walsh said that it was up to parents to explain the significance of Memorial Day so that kids understand the true meaning of the day. He talked about the role that the American Legion plays in decorating cemeteries with flags and raising funds so that veterans can receive the aid they need.

At Collins’ request, Phyllis Hull, Chairman of The World War II Monument Committee provided a brief update on the effort to replace the current aging wooden memorial with a new granite monument by Memorial Day 2011.

Rev. Vincent J. Gianni of St. Florence Church offered the Invocation and Benediction. WHS senior Dan Reardon performed an a cappella version of the National Anthem. Michael Russo and Caroline Andrews of WHS played “Taps” to close the ceremony.

[This story originally appeared in the June 1, 2010 Wakefield Daily Item.]

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3 Responses to “Wakefield, Massachusetts Honors Its War Dead”

  1. 1 Rick Robbins

    My uncle John F. Glynn jr. (Junny) was lost at sea during WW2 at the tender age of 18. Upon graduating from Wakefield High he aswered the call and joined the United States Navy. He was assigned to submarine duty and his sub struck enemy mines killing the entire crew. His mother, my grandmother, the late Mabel Glynn honored him by serving as President of the Gold Star Mothers. Mabel rode in many Wakefield parades wearing her white uniform and keeping her sons memory alive. It was my grandmothers dedication to her son and the love she displayed for this country that instilled the patriotism that is deeply embedded into my soul today.

    Rick Robbins
    Class of ’69
    USMC 69-71

  2. 2 Mark Sardella

    Rick,
    For many years at the Wakefield Veterans’ Day observance, they would read the names of the Gold Star Mothers present. I remember Mabel Glynn’s name being one that was recognized every year.

  3. I was very interested in this article for a specific reason. I am researching my genealogy and the name Muse is quite significant. My grandmother was Nellie Parker from Nova Scotia and lived in Wakefield in 1893 when she immigrated here with Anne Muse and Louis Lafeve and his wife Fannie and children from Yarmouth. We have been told Nellie Parker was in fact Mary Ellen Muse born in Yarmouth, NS in 1880 and was a Mi’kmaq indian. If Ed or Edward Muse is familiar with any of these names I would appreciate a return email.
    As far as the observance of Memorial Day, I thought the speakers were quite eloquant. I particularly agree with Mr Walsh’s comments about parents explaining what it’s all about to their children.


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