Worcester Memorial Day๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ฒ Weekend Thoughts๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ฒ …

A REAL CITY – WORCESTER!

By Rosalie Tirella

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Rose, at the dog park, earlier this Memorial Day. pics: R.T.

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Lilac, at the dog park.

I took offense recently when a Worcester politician told the papers: Finally! WORCESTER IS A REAL CITY!! He was talking about the shiny new Worcester: the touristy Woo, the city I can’t relate to: our new ball park built by Rhode Island contractors, the fancy restaurants I can never afford to patronize, the $10 artisan bread and $10 slices of pie I will never buy.

The Worcester pol was talking about our beer gardens and roof top bars and specialty lagers (and the shootings that go with them) and the hundreds of spoiled Boston kids moving into our new Soviet Union-style downtown apartment complexes – really, glorified dormitories – bankrolled by their moms and dads who can pay their $2,000 rents.

The politician was crowing about our day spas and bo bo teas and ridiculously expensive sweaters, pocketbooks and bras.

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The chi chi Canal District, home to overpriced clothing and toast … and Worcester’s new ball park.

We winced at the quote. For us, Worcester has always been a REAL CITY. A great city with grit and heart. The comings and goings of this real city – sometimes obstreperous, sometimes delicate – have always thrilled us! We love our immigrants from all over the world, our workers with their state college degrees, our old people, young couples, school teachers, children on swing sets, puppies and sea gulls and hospitals and teenagers and babies and city parks … artists and grand public junior high schools built during the Roosevelt presidency … state-of-the-art public high schools readying our students for Harvard and beyond…our straight folks, gay folks… We’ve got it all. We’ve always been a real city. But modest, wearing hand-me-down jackets, never bragging about bank accounts or vacation trips, leading with a big heart, being open, sometimes rude, usually opinionated, most often caring … unabashedly sentimental, friendly and proudly ethnic.

Case in point: 1:30 p.m, today, on Foster Street, at the Korean War Memorial Plaza. A beauty of a plaza near our downtown, with statues of a little boy and soldier, flags atop flag poles, a granite tombstone with dedication, a granite wall with dates to remember, history to honor.

The Korean War Memorial Plaza was totally paid for by Worcester champion and insurance sales czar Frank Carroll. Frank’s a parishioner of St. John’s Church on Temple Street and built the stately St. Francis food pantry, dining room and prep kitchen next to the church. Thousands of hungry people have been fed at St. Francis thanks to the generosity of Frank Carroll, an ally of St. John’s pastor, Father John Madden. He’s my priest, too! I call him “Padre”!

This afternoon I was at the edges of the City of Worcester’s annual Memorial Day ceremony at the plaza Frank C built … honoring our city’s fallen heroes on Memorial Day. Worcester Police Officer Sean Lovely was there, playing his ubiquitous bag pipes like he does at all City of Worcester events and ceremonies. His music was wistful, beautiful. There were Worcester veterans in their uniforms saluting our flag and their fallen brothers. There were wreaths to be silently, solemnly laid and a good-sized crowd gathered around to watch, to bear witness: to say, WE WILL NEVER FORGET YOU. The Worcester soldiers – kids – who died in the Korean War.

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Everyone there basked in Officer Lovely’s lovely music and the beauty of the plaza and their memories of our men in uniform. The vets were wearing their summer whites, so crisp and bright and perfect. The crippled Vietnam vet made his way to the ceremony, his tough guy leather vest sporting a logo of a club and people important to him. He was perfect, too. A Worcester cop stood at attention as he made sure the crowd was safe and the ceremony unfolded with dignity.

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The real Worcester. My real city.

2014 Commander, Naval Air Force Atlantic Sailors of the Year
Honoring America’s military men and women. File photo.

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THE PBS MEMORIAL DAY TV SPECIAL

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The PBS tv special was excellent!

I got to watch last night the always patriotic, classy and moving PBS Memorial Day TV special honoring our US military vets๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ and fallen heroes๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ. The television special, filled with songs, stories, US military bands and singers, speeches, real battle video clips, hugs and standing ovations for our veterans – the young, old, wheel-chair-bound and walker-dependent who are present in the audience – had me wiping away the tears. Our vets๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ were seated in the front rows of this outdoor concert venue in DC, complete with grateful and diverse audience: they all looked beautiful. The tv special may screen again on PBS today … definitely on-line. Actor Gary Sinese (of Forest Gump fame and many WW II tv/film specials) has dedicated his life to honoring our vets and American history. He has been hosting this PBS special – accompanied by guest US military generals and American actors and Broadway luminaries and singers of all races and ages – for more than 30 years. The soldiers are wearing their dress uniforms – their chests sparkle with their medals that shine under the spotlights; their ribbons flutter in the wind. Gary wears a suit. The female guests wear gorgeous, tasteful evening gowns, and the male guest speakers or singers wear suits. Dignity. Respect.

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Retelling our American history, honoring our fallen war heroes.

… I’ve watched lots of these annual PBS Memorial Day tv specials, sad but ultimately proud๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ. Quality TV for the family. We need more American TV like this show – not the soft porn, violent, loud, in-your-face, gross-out TV that pollutes our living rooms every night, dragging our culture even further down – sadly, often reflecting it.

– Rosalie