Copied from Boston Globe 5/26/2009 (Back to MVPP recenbt events)
Honor the dead, work for future peace, speakers say
Pat Scanlon, a Vietnam
veteran, joined Boryana Tacconi, of Andover, as she threw a flower into
Boston Harbor as part of a Memorial Day tribute during the Veterans for Peace and
Military Families Speak out gathering at Christopher Columbus Park in Boston.
Pat Scanlon, a Vietnam veteran, joined Boryana Tacconi, of Andover, as she threw a flower into
Boston Harbor as part of a Memorial Day tribute during the Veterans for Peace and Military Families
Speak out gathering at Christopher Columbus Park in Boston. (Globe Staff Photo / Yoon S. Byun)
On the holiday set aside to remember the nation's war dead, an event called a Memorial Day for Peace tends to attract people of a particular political stripe, which Jeff Key knew yesterday as he spoke to a crowd gathered next to Boston Harbor.
"I realize to some extent that I'm preaching to the choir," he said, an Alabama-bred grin spreading across his face as he gazed at about 150 people festooned with "stop the war" stickers. "But sometimes when you preach to the choir, you learn new songs or new ways to sing the old songs."
A former Marine lance corporal and an Iraq war veteran, Key is performing a one-man show at the Boston Playwrights' Theater about his experiences. Joining with other speakers in the North End's Christopher Columbus Park, he tried to carve out a different approach to honoring those who died in distant battles, or whose lives ended after returning home because of war's lingering effects.
Many who attended the second annual peace rally wanted to hear a tune other than the ones played at traditional parades.
"I want my kids to learn about Memorial Day," said Pauline Terebuh of Brookline, who brought her 7-year-old daughter, Ella, and 4-year-old son, Niko. "So I looked really hard for an event that I thought could help them learn to really honor what soldiers do for this country, and also learn the values of peace."
Nearby, Jane Jackson of Lexington was one of several people from Friends Meeting at Cambridge who attended "to commemorate Memorial Day by celebrating peace."
"And supporting veterans, rather than warmongers," added Kitty Rush of Cambridge, who was standing next to Jackson.
The event, sponsored by Veterans for Peace and Military Families Speak Out, began slightly after noon with an invocation by Ralph Galen, a Unitarian Universalist minister who said that "in death there are no enemies, there are only tragedies."
Creating a tapestry of loss, Andover activist and musician Pat Scanlon of Veterans for Peace wove stories of Iraq war veterans together with recollections of high school friends who, like him, served in Vietnam.
Though the speeches mostly focused on members of the military who had died in wars present and past, politics crept in. Maureen Hearn of Military Families Speak Out raised the specter of an impatient electorate when she noted that while voters "elected a president who promised to bring the troops home . . . President Obama is not only continuing the war in Iraq, he's increasing the number of troops" being sent to Afghanistan.
Before those at the rally lined up one by one to drop a carnation into Boston Harbor for each of the 96 servicemen and women from Massachusetts who have died in Iraq or Afghanistan, Joyce and Kevin Lucey spoke about the impact war had on their son.
Jeffrey Lucey, who served with the Marines in Iraq, hanged himself in the family's Belchertown home five years ago, tormented by depression. In January, the Luceys accepted $350,000 from the US government to settle a lawsuit they filed, accusing the Northampton VA Medical Center of negligence.
"Last year, we stood on this very same spot and spoke about our son, what war did to him, what the system failed to do for him, and what we hoped 2009 would bring," Joyce Lucey said. "We stand here today with a new administration, but seeing little that has changed."
"It keeps Jeff alive,"
Kevin Lucey said after the ceremony of their choice to speak about him at public
events. "We go down to the cemetery so much. There's a stone there, but
it's not Jeff."
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