Tag Archives: US war veterans

Worcester must honor those who served!

By Ron O’Clair

I was pleased to show my support for the item on the Worcester City Council Agenda for the 29th of March 2016 meeting to fund the restoration of the “Colored Citizens World War II Honor Roll Memorial” that had been taken down in 1959 after having been erected at Belmont and Clayton streets in 1943 by a grateful City of Worcester to honor those members of our community who gave their service to the nation during World War II.

The reason the memorial was taken down was it was in the path of the proposed I-290 Interstate Highway then being built through Worcester. It was a huge project, and there were a lot of land takings, building demolitions and street alterations made to accommodate putting an Interstate Highway through the heart of our city.

Many things were happening during that time of upheaval, and the project was not completed for quite some time from that starting date of 1959. In fact, they were still working on a section of it when the bridge under construction collapsed at College Square in April of 1968. My older brother Donald and I had walked under the bridge to go to the A & P Supermarket located at the Four Corners on Southbridge Street. We walked back under the bridge under construction going back to where our family was living on Caro Street … We had just turned onto College Hill when the bridge behind us came down. We narrowly escaped death.

Apparently, with all of the things happening during that time of upheaval, with the land takings of two public schools, three synagogues, numerous private homes and businesses being torn down and roads being dead-ended, the absence of the memorial to the “colored citizens” went somehow unnoticed and not restored upon completion of the Interstate Highway.

Somehow the City of Worcester never got around to putting the memorial back up in another spot, and no one raised a fuss about it.

As far as I have been able to determine the people who’s names were on that “colored citizens” memorial have not been added to any other monument erected since that one was removed and are not being honored at all today.

That I find highly unacceptable as a fellow Veteran and as a Patriot, as well as a City of Worcester booster. There was an outpouring of support from Veterans and Veterans’ groups at City Council meeting; vets showed up with representatives of all branches of service: Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines … there might have even been a Coast Guardsman there as well. There were American Legion and Veteran of Foreign Wars members, Vietnam Veterans, all from the many different nationalities that make up the Veteran lexicon. There were Black, White, Latino, Asian and everything in between! I was pleased to see how much support this movement received! Many people, including me, spoke that night in favor of commissioning a replacement monument in Worcester as a memorial to those “colored citizens” of the City of Worcester who, through accident or design, were relegated to the past as forgotten heroes.

It was not just a “colored citizens” issue, it was a Veteran’s issue. It received an 11-0 vote from the city council in favor of rebuilding …

Thank you to all who participated, thank you to the Woecester City Council for passing the item and, most of all, thank you to those whose names graced the original memorial … for their service and sacrifice made on behalf of all who reside in the great melting pot of races that is the City of Worcester!

Please email Ronaldoclair@hotmail.com with any comments/criticisms.

Veteran Expo pairs veterans with services

Boston – The Department of Veterans Affairs Boston Healthcare System and Bedford VAMC are partnering with the MA Department of Veteran Services and the community to host a benefit and job Expo for those who have served our nation. The Veterans Expo will have many federal, state, and local agencies on hand to explain benefits and programs available to assist Veterans with their transition back into civilian life.

“This event will bring together many government service agencies under one roof to assist our returning service men and women with navigating the often-times confusing benefits process,” said Michael M. Lawson, Director of VA Boston Healthcare System. “These men and women need jobs, support, and answers to their benefit questions; this is just the venue to provide that and much more.”

The Expo will also feature seminars throughout the day on Accessing VA benefits, Life after Deployment, Women Veterans Healthcare, Financial Planning, Communication for Couples, and more.

“Veterans have earned a wealth of benefits from their government and their communities. Ready access to those benefits is an on-going task and the VA Outreach team is there to help our Vets clear a path right through those obstacles,” said David Hencke, Outreach Coordinator for VA Boston Healthcare System. “This Expo is a high-energy, resource packed afternoon for anyone who has ever worn the uniform as well as their families and friends who support them.”

Veterans should bring their resume and proof of military service as there will be many businesses in attendance looking to employ Veterans. In addition, over 40 support agencies will be attending including the Mass. Department of Veteran and Career Services, Veterans Inc., US Department of Health and Human Services, American Consumer Credit Counsel, Army Wounded Warrior Program, Military Family Life Consultants, MA Spiritual Strength Network, Veterans Upward Bound, the Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program and many more. For a comprehensive list of businesses and agencies that will be at the Expo visit our web site www.boston.va.gov.

While at the Expo, Veterans will be able to enroll for VA healthcare and meet with representatives from the Veterans Benefits Administration to learn about VA Home Loans, Educational / Post 911 GI Bill Benefits, VA Non-Service Connected Pension Benefits, Service Connected Compensation Benefits from injuries related to military service and Vocational Rehabilitation & Employment (VR&E) Benefits. In addition, Veterans will be able to enroll in eBenefits which is a collaboration between the Department of Defense and VA. Our online eBenefits is a one-stop shop for benefits-related on line tools and information.

The Expo is free and will be held at Bunker Hill Community College, from 1 p.m. – 8 p.m. on June 20th, at the Multi-Purpose Center, Building G, 250 New Rutherford Ave., Boston.