Vets Should Have Been Asked to Speak at
June 24th, was a proud day for the city of Lawrence with
the dedication of the Veterans Memorial Stadium.
As a Lawrencian at heart, I felt proud too. However, it
was unfortunate that the organizers neglected to have
even one veteran speak.
I was notified on Wednesday by the state office of the
American Legion that the State Commander was not able to
attend and would I represent him. As a Lawrence High grad
and the new Commander of Essex County, I was excited. I
prepared a speech because, typically, the State Commander
is asked to say a few words. I called to RSVP as did the
state office. I introduced myself to the mayor. As noted,
no speech by any veteran. There was no invocation by any
religious minister of any faith.
Also, I would like to note that I had my installation
ceremony on Sunday at American Legion Post 4 in Haverhill
- the first Essex County Commander from Haverhill in 25
years. Invitations were sent to our congressman, state
senator, state representatives, mayor and City Council.
In fact, we sent invitations to the following officials:
Congressman Marty Meehan; State Sen. Steven Baddour;
State Rep. Brian Dempsey; State Rep. Barbara LItalien;
State Rep. Harriet Stanley (She did respond that she was
unable to attend.); Mayor James Fiorentini; City Council
President Michael Hart; city councilors David Hall,
Krystine Hetel, David Swartz, Mary Ellen Daly OBrien,
Robert Scatamacchia, William Macek (He did respond,
unable to attend.), William Ryan, and John Curtin;
President George Bush (He sent a letter, unable to
attend.); Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld (no response);
Secretary of the VA Nicholson (Who sent the Regional
Director from Boston, Eric Hutchinson).
I had responses from one state rep. and one member of the
City Council. I did get a letter from President Bush
since he could not attend and the Secretary of the VA
sent the Acting Regional Director from Boston who did
attend. I never thought I would say this or feel this
way, but actions are louder than words. How are we as
veterans supposed to feel?
I am including the speech I would have given on Saturday
had I been given 3 minutes to talk. I hope you will run
Lawrence Veterans Memorial Stadium, June 24, 2006
Thank you Mr. Mayor, City Council, distinguished guests,
veterans, fellow Americans one and all. My name is John
Lenotte. I am the Essex County Commander for the American
I bring you greetings from our State Legion Commander,
Steve Jimmo, who could not be here due to another
I also bring you greetings from myself, the Legion
District officers and nearly 5,000 members of the Legion,
Auxiliary and Sons of the American Legion in Essex
I feel especially honored to be here today. I spent most
of my life in Lawrence and am a proud graduate of
Lawrence High School, Class of 1968. Lawrence will always
be dear to my heart as I know it is to others who have
It is a pleasure to live in this fine Commonwealth where
we have a legislature that has created a separate
Veterans Committee and leads the nation in providing
recognition and benefits to veterans.
Too often, veterans have to lobby and debate with
legislators. Not so here in Mass. And we have a perfect
example here today with the leadership of Mayor Sullivan,
his administration, City Council and legislative support
that have done this magnificent work in this stadium
continuing the pride of Lawrencians and a tribute to
veterans of the past and the future. I thank you Mr.
One other brief note. Today we all saluted the flag,
recited the pledge of allegiance and recognized a piece
of cloth that we hold in special honor.
Since a US Supreme Court ruling in 1989 declared our flag
can be burned as an expression of freedom of speech,
veterans groups and Americans everywhere have lobbied for
a constitutional amendment.
Ladies and gentlemen, the flag amendment is coming on the
floor of the US Senate this week for a vote. We are but
one vote away from passage. I urge one and all to contact
your US Senators and express your feelings about this
amendment. Thank you and God Bless America.
*Send your questions comments to ValleyPatriot@aol.com
The June, 2006 Edition
of the Valley Patriot
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Valley Patriot Archive
Prior columns by TomDuggan
Classroom Credit to Support
Trash Talk in N. Andover
The NY Times & Treason
Actions Speak Louder Than
Tom Duggan's Notebook
Mill City Maulers To Play Stadium
Planning for our Future
The Day of Reckoning in N.A.