Opening Comments from Veterans Service Officer
Good Morning! I’m Kevin Bohmiller and privileged to be Reading’s Veterans Services Officer. Thank you for joining us on this Memorial Day as we celebrate, honor, and remember those that paid the ultimate sacrifice while serving our country, so that we can enjoy the freedoms that we may sometimes take for granted.
Greetings from the Town Common. A year ago, we stood in this same spot thinking and hoping we would be conducting this ceremony behind us in Laurel Hill Cemetery after a parade down Main Street. While we again are not having a public ceremony, we are still honoring our Veterans with the solemn dignity and respect they have earned through their service and sacrifice. Wreaths have been placed at each Veterans area of Reading’s 4 cemeteries, Laurel Hill, Forest Glen, Charles Lawn, and Wood End. If you have not visited our cemeteries this time of year, I encourage you to please make the time to visit and honor our veterans.
The agony, pain, and suffering of the past 15 months have impacted every one of us!! In a way, we have survived our own war. We have survived history. In front of us on the Town Common is a flag for each of the 49 Reading residents we lost to the COVID-19 virus. May they rest in peace. May, their families who were not able to properly honor them find peace and solace in the days ahead.
Town Manager Remarks
A special thanks to the speakers the preceded me and to those that will follow. Memorial Day is meant to be the day where we remember those that sacrificed their lives in order that we enjoy our freedom. Last year I said that we should pause to reflect on those who died in active military service for our country and that we are full of admiration and thankfulness for which there are no real words. This is equally true today, yet this year there is something more that must be said, and respectfully cannot wait until next November for Veteran’s Day.
Last month I had the good fortune of joining the best VSO in the Commonwealth, our own Kevin Bohmiller, along with RMHS class of 1979 graduate and Reading resident Brigadier General (retired) Jack Hammond as they both received unanimous support from our School Committee to place a Vietnam Veteran Memorial to ALL who served.
It was hard not to notice and admire the dozens of medals worn by General Hammond as he modestly explained he had just finished a formal ceremony in Boston that night. I am certain that through selfless acts of heroism, he saved many lives and deserves every recognition.
Yet to me, perhaps his greatest achievement is in an area that does not always receive full attention at public ceremonies. Jack is the Executive Director of Home Base Program, a Red Sox Foundation, and Massachusetts General Hospital Program dedicated to healing the invisible wounds for Veterans of all eras.
Today it is fitting to remember those that gave their lives so that we may be free – and families in Reading and throughout the Commonwealth are encouraged and supported by our words.
Yet this year, we must also remember and speak words of thanks and remembrance to our veterans from all eras that carry around their invisible wounds.
The pandemic has brought us a unique opportunity to more readily recognize and do a better job as a community in the area of mental health. Who better deserves our care and attention in this area than our veterans?
Select Board Remarks
Good morning. My name is Karen Gately Herrick. I am the Chair of the Reading Select Board. It is my privilege to speak on behalf of the Reading Select Board.
Today we remember our fallen heroes, soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice in the pursuit of freedom.
I would like to take a moment to recognize and thank two decorated veterans who have joined us today, Retired Captain Mary Jo Majors, US Navy, and Father Richard Erickson, Retired Brigadier General, US Air Force. Thank you both for your past bravery and service and for your ongoing volunteerism on behalf of US military veterans, not the least of which is joining us here today on this historic common.
Eleanor Roosevelt said that Freedom makes a huge requirement of every human being. With freedom comes responsibility.
It can be easy to forget that the freedom and peace we enjoy today would not have been possible without the 1000’s of women and men who dedicated their lives to this responsibility at great cost to themselves and their families. Today we remember and honor their achievements as well as the sacrifice.
Freedom is never free. As we gather for somber reflection of their valor and to express profound gratitude for their sacrifice – we can challenge ourselves to live up to their legacy.
Ronald Regan once noted, “Soldiers don’t get to choose their wars.”
The living can continue to honor the memory of those laid to rest here in Reading and around the world by continuing to fight for justice, freedom, tolerance, and goodwill for all. Thank you.
Veterans Service Officer Introduction to Guest Speaker
It is now my privilege to welcome Capt. Mary Jo Majors, Nurse Corps. United States Navy, Ret. Born and raised in North Cambridge, MA, she graduated in 1969 with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from St. Anselm College. She began her career as a Nurse Corps Candidate with a Navy scholarship for her last 2 years of college and was commissioned an Ensign in her senior year on December 11, 1968. Active duty began in 1969 at the Naval Hospital Memphis, TN, which included caring for many Navy and Marine Corps wounded warriors returning from the Vietnam War. She went on to serve at Naval Hospital, Naples, Italy, and joined the Navy Reserves after released from active duty in 1973. She completed a Master of Science in Nursing degree at Boston University and continued to serve on numerous reserve and active duty assignments in staff and leadership positions at military duty stations. She retired in March 2011 with over 43 years of service and has continued volunteer service in many roles and in organizations affiliated with the military, their families, and veterans.
CAPT Majors also worked in non-military healthcare organizations in many states while serving in the reserves. Some of her positions included: Clinical Specialist in critical care; Vice-President of Patient and Acute Care Services, Nursing school instructor; and as Director of Clinical Operations and Director of Nursing, South Cove Community Health Center, Boston, MA, where she retired from in March 2016.
She has served her entire life in service to others and is a volunteer providing time, support, leadership, education, and mentorship to many civilian, military, and veteran organizations and to high school and college students
She has received numerous other awards for her leadership and devotion of service to others to include:
- Massachusetts Department of Veterans Services’ Award as “Outstanding Woman Veteran of the Year” in November 2010.
- National Navy Nurse Corps Association’s National Service Award: May 2020.
Capt Majors is currently the first female president of the Wardroom Club, a Dining club for active and former Navy, Coast Guard, Marine, and Merchant Marine Officers in Boston, which has been in existence since 1899. The club was wise to have elected a Navy Nurse to lead during the pandemic. Capt Majors, we are honored to have you with us today.
I will now read the names of those Reading Veterans that have passed since last Memorial Day. Some of these individuals did pass as a result of Covid-19.
Mary Jo Majors, CAPT, US Navy (Ret) – Video From RCTV
Memorial Day roll call 2021
|Barbara Adams||Gordon Little|
|Charles Arthur||Ralph Lutz|
|James Blomley||Frank McQuesten|
|Gerald Boissoneau||George McWilliams|
|Marcel Boisvert||Frank Mello|
|Charles Burke||Charles Mitchel|
|William Burns||Robert Murphy|
|Joseph Calareso||Eugene Nigro|
|Charles Chambers||Robert Nordstrand|
|John Crosby||Robert O’Shaughnessy|
|Eunice Dagel||Sebastian Pedi|
|John Doucette||Warren Poor|
|Peter Fantasia||Richard Redmond|
|Thomas Foxon||Robert Reebenacker|
|Frank Goddard Jr.||Frederick Shea|
|Calvin Grant||Allan Sletterink|
|Christina Hannigan||Louis Sorrentio|
|Donald Hart||Herbert Spinney|
|Barbara Hitchcock||Barry Stevens|
|Wendall Hodgkins||Richard Svirsky|
|Richard Hull Sr.||Carl Timberman|
|Russell Jeffery||Chester Tyminski|
|Lloyd Johnson||John Welch|
|Neil Jourdrie||Dorothy White|
May they all rest in Peace
During the past 15 months, I have witnessed countless acts of generosity and kindness in our community. As the pandemic wanes, please, please continue to be kind. Please continue to take care of your family, friends, and neighbors. We must learn from these past 15+ months as we move forward. I look forward to Memorial Day 2022, when the RMHS band once again leads us down Main Street, children can again be in the street waving the American flag to honor our heroes and we return to each of our cemeteries to remember those who have served.
I’d like to thank all those that participated in today’s ceremony. RCTV for broadcasting this event, Father Erickson and Father Campo, The Reading Police Dept. Liam Synnott, Paula Curran. Bob LeLacheur, Karen Herrick, Capt Majors, Nick Belous, Owen Abruzzese, Gibson Carpenter, and Joe Mulligan the RMHS Band Director.
Thank you to the amazing cemetery grounds crew who teamed up with the Parks Department who once again did a tremendous job preparing our 52 acres of cemeteries. Raymond Boyd, our Soldier and Sailors graves officer, his Lieutenant Bill Brown and the many volunteers that endured the heat last week to place markers and 100 + Scouts and their parents who bundled up for the cold rain on Saturday morning to place flags and flowers on the graves of 2,451 veterans that have gone before us.
Finally, thank you to the Reading Select Board, Town Manager Bob LeLacheur and Assistant Town Manager Jean Delios for their support of veteran’s issues throughout the year.
May God bless all those that have gone before us and all those currently serving to protect our freedom. Please continue to be safe everyone. Thank you and be well.