The wreath is prepared to be laid in front of the memorial.
By James Kinneen
Hometown Weekly Reporter
Last Monday afternoon at the Walpole Town Common, veterans, mourners, military vehicles and Walpole High School students gathered to celebrate Memorial Day and honor the Walpole citizens that died fighting for their country.
Unfortunately for Walpole, one of their proud veterans, Marine Joe Denneen, died this year, as well.
Almost every speech that was given mentioned Denneen’s service to both his country and to the people of Walpole and Massachusetts at large. After his time in the military, Denneen was a Walpole Representative to Town Meeting, served on the Bylaw Study Committee, The Capitol Budget Committee, The Finance Committee, the Board of Selectmen, the Walpole Housing Authority and the Veteran’s Service Committee.
In her speech, Donna Summers recalled how Denneen would correct her any time she made the mistake of saying someone “was a Marine” by telling her: “What do you mean ‘was’? It’s ‘is.’ Once a Marine, always a Marine.” While the service honored all fallen heroes, this year, it was clear Denneen’s loss was the one that stung the most.
When Representative Shawn Dooley spoke, he noted that while Memorial Day is a day to remember fallen soldiers, we must also remember how many veterans we are losing every day. “While many wounds may not be visible to the naked eye, they are equally fatal,” he declared. Dooley spoke of the many veterans we are losing to suicides and cancers caused from their wartime activities. He urged the crowd to “live with a sense of purpose, worthy of their sacrifices.”
One young man that is doing just that is Eagle Scout Raymond Walach. For his Eagle Scout Project, Walach created a database of the over 700 veterans that were buried in St. Francis Cemetery, an incredibly tedious process that involved individually photographing every headstone and putting in their information.
Ethel Simeone read “In Flanders Fields,” while Donna Summers opted to read from a speech Ronald Reagan gave at Arlington National Cemetery, before the crowd dispersed and congregated at a barbecue that was being held at the VFW.