COMMENTARY: In Honor of Memorial Day, this Military Mom Remembers the Personal Narratives of Eight Veterans

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When I was the editor of the Westford Eagle, I wrote a commentary on my role as a military mom. My older son, Christopher, now a captain in the U.S. Army, was determined to go into the military when he was attending Westford Academy. He participated in ROTC at U-Mass Amherst, even during the first two years when he received no financial incentive. I am so proud of all he’s accomplished since then and grateful for his service, but living through the years when he was overseas in Kuwait and South Korea, was difficult for me.

I’m the daughter of a World War II veteran, but ours was not a military family. My late father served in the European theater under General George S. Patton. Like so many others, when my father came home from the war, he went to work, helping his father operate a food supply store at the Bronx Terminal Market under the old Yankee Stadium.

In his latter years, he took great pride in having served this country. He never left home without his baseball cap identifying him as a military veteran. He loved when people approached him to voice their gratitude.

Tomorrow we’ll honor the town’s fallen veterans, and pay tribute to those who served and came home, but only in our hearts and minds. COVID-19 has prevented us from gathering on the Common as we have done so many times before. Among the veterans I will remember are eight who shared their stories with Christopher for his Eagle Project in 2008-2009. Those recorded interviews were turned over to the Library of Congress for its Veterans History Project.

It was the death of Joseph R. Connell, Sr., on May 1 at age 91, a former police chief in Westford and a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, that sparked my memory of the project. When approached by Christopher and asked to participate, Chief Connell could have politely declined as so many others had, but instead he chose to help. His and the other personal narratives provided by military veterans helped Christopher become an Eagle Scout.

This Memorial Day, I ask the residents of Westford to join me in honoring Robert Manfred AbrahamsonNicholas V. Basinas, Jerry George Berkowitz, Lloyd G. Blanchard, Robert Connell, George S. Seddon, and Margaret Phyllis Valentine Seddon.

Though we can’t share our grief in person, we can keep them in our memories.