Our View of the Times – May 17

On May 17, 2017, in Latest News, by The Somerville Times

It began as a way to memorialize the military casualties of the Civil War, and was originally termed Decoration Day. Decorating the graves of the countless multitudes of fallen soldiers helped to console the grieving survivors of the debacle while uniting the once divided nation in a worthwhile common cause.

For many these days, Memorial Day represents the beginning of the summery high season. Kids soon enjoy their vacations from school. Families and individuals go traveling, camping, surfing, and whatever else represents fun in the sun in the months to come.

This next week we will take a little more time to pay homage to those who made the supreme sacrifice for their country, as  “Memorial Week” gets underway, beginning this coming Saturday.

Many of us will go out and enjoy the great parade this coming Sunday, a week earlier than in years past. It is always inspirational and a great place to meet old friends and perhaps make some new ones.

But the parade is just the beginning of the festivities planned for the week ahead. The city has come up with a schedule of great activities designed to broaden and deepen the Memorial Day experience, coinciding with the city’s 175th birthday celebrations. Veterans’ Services has all the info on the scheduled events, so give them a call at 617-625-6600 ext. 4700 to learn more.

Our heroes deserve recognition and thanks for the service they have given, and you may come away from the experience feeling a bit more enlightened and enriched than before.

Most of all, give some thought to what the brave men and women who laid down their lives mean to all of us today. How the freedom and quality of life we enjoy in America would not be possible without those selfless acts of courage and devotion. It is good to have that sense of appreciation throughout the year too.


1 Response » to “Our View of the Times – May 17”

  1. Russ McDonnell says:

    I’m traveling back to the fourth grade in a new school. My family had just moved, again, this time to Somerville Massachusetts to our new home just a few blocks from the Morse school on Summer Street. It was around the middle of October so the school year was already well along.
    My mom and I arrived in the second floor classroom of the well maintained but old building and was greeted by the principal and my new teacher, Miss Agnes O’Brien. After the official hand off to the new environment, I was left standing with Miss O’Brien just as the kids of her class got back from mid-morning recess. The first kid that welcomed me was Donnie Curtin. He assured me that no one in the class bites and Miss O’Brien would make certain of that. As I met other kids over the next few school weeks, I had already made a great friendship with Donnie. He was unassuming, exceptionally honest in his life’s outlook, and an excellent athlete, even at such a young age. He played at everything sports with fine skill. As the autumn got deeper, he introduced me to “sponge ball” at the Morse School playground. Although I was a terrible ball player, he made certain that I, along with other equally untalented “athletes” were allowed to participate in the pickup games played on the asphalt diamond. Although there were very tall chain link fences around the playground, occasionally a ball would get hit out of the park into an adjacent yard or porch. It was one of the hazards of home ownership next to a playground. In one game that I was not present, a player hit the ball over the fence and it crashed through the third floor window of the triple decker just past the outfield in right field. Most all the kids took off when they heard the glass shattering, but Donnie went out of the playground, down to the next street to that building, met the tenant, apologized for the damage and offered to have it fixed. When I
    learned about this a few days later, I had my first real glimpse at the character of Don Curtin.
    By the time we reached sixth grade, we were about to leave grammar school to the “grownup” environs of junior high school. The school’s two sixth grade classes held an election just before summer break as an exercise in the civics lessons we had learned just that year. As it turned
    out, after much campaigning and glad handing, I was elected “president” and Donnie was elected “vice president”. We had a wonderful time joking about the election and taking the ribbing of our classmates, but in the merriment Donnie, quite deliberately, said that no matter what happened from that time forward, we would always be “bosom buddies”.
    I lost touch with Donnie Curtin during my high school years. By the late 1960s I enlisted in the US Air Force, did a stint in NATO, coming back home in early 1971. I went looking for old friends, but many had moved on or were in the service. I knew Donnie was in the Army, but was unaware where he was stationed and wanted to find him and write to him to try to get reconnected. When I found out he died in action in Vietnam, I felt a hole in my heart open up and over such a long time, haven’t been able to close it. Even though my time with Don Curtin was quite brief, it was all quality and to this day, enduring.
    Once in awhile I will stop at the memorial in front of the Somerville High School to say hi to Don, but it was usually more to reflect on the privilege of being his friend. The world is a much lesser place without Don Curtin. On this Memorial Day, through the haze of my tears as I write this, I pray that God look after my bosom buddy, Donnie Curtin.

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