The following is the speech Mayor Carlo DeMaria gave at the Gold Star ceremony.
Today what stands in front of you is a pavilion honoring all of our Gold Star families. The generation that came before us built this beautiful memorial as a place to reflect and remember those who have given the ultimate sacrifice. Like an aging warrior this pavilion began to lose its luster, it’s paint began to peel, the roof began to leak, and it’s once strong wood began to rot. I noticed this and felt sad to see this old warrior so neglected. So I resolved to once again honor these families and restore this pavilion.
Last summer, we began work. Our Faculties Department replaced rotted wood, installed a new roof, put new railings on with beautiful bead board and installed new benches. Department of Public Works restored the walkways, installed a new granite floor, built new stairs and put on the finishing touches including new sod and a new sprinkler system.
I am so gratified that we have brought the shine back to this Gold Star Pavilion.
We are gathered here to honor our own, U.S. Army Sargent Joseph Riley, U.S. Army Sergeant David Kuhn, and USMC Lance Corporal James Taurisano and their respective Gold Star Families. They represent the best we have as all three of these Everett Heroes have given their lives so that we can enjoy the freedoms and the democracy of this great country. We honor these hero’s in many ways by memorials, by medals and by honoring their families. We are forever grateful to those who made the ultimate sacrifice and to their Gold Star families who have given so much.
Army Sgt. Joseph F. Riley joined the military five days after he turned seventeen years old on May 13, 1949. He served in the infantry and just five months after the Korean War began he was listed as “missing in action” on November 28, 1950-he was 18 years old.
On Jan. 15, 1954, Sgt. Riley’s mom, Margaret Riley was notified in a Department of the Army Official Correspondence that “since your son, Sgt. Joseph F. Riley was reported missing in action ……the Department of the Army has entertained the hope that he survived and that information would be received dispelling the uncertainty surrounding his absence….and in view of the lapse in time without information to support a continued presumption of survival, the Department of the Army must determine such absence by a presumptive finding of death…..”
I ask all of you, who among us would welcome that news…not a one I dare say….
Marine Lance Corporal James “Jimmy” V. Taurisano joined the military right out of Everett High School on Sept. 1, 1964 at the age of 18. He enlisted by way of the “buddy system” –his buddy being his foster brother Richard Stratton. Both Jimmy and Rich were sent to Vietnam, Jimmy serving with the 1st Marine Division and Rich serving with the 2nd Marine Division. Tragically, United States Marine Corp Lance Corporal James Taurisano was “killed in action” in the vicinity of the “Danang Republic of Vietnam as a result of multiple fragmentation wounds of both legs and buttocks sustained on Jan. 19, 1966 from an unknown explosive device while on patrol.” We are so very blessed to have here with us today, his buddy and foster brother, United States Marine Corp Sergeant Richard Stratton who will be accepting the Medal of Liberty on behalf of his brother as well as speak on behalf of our Gold Star Families here with us.
Sergeant David A. Kuhns grew up on Bucknam Street and was 20 years old when he joined the United States Army on June 29, 1965. His first two tours of duty in Vietnam, earned him a Combat Infantry Badge, a Parachute Badge, a Purple Heart, the Vietnam Service Medal and a National Defense Service Medal. Tragically, while Sgt. Kuhns was serving his third tour of duty in Vietnam, he was “Killed in Action” on Oct. 3, 1969.
History tells us that unlike Word War II, the Korean War and especially the Vietnam War were not “popular” wars. There were no “ticker tape parades” to pay tribute to our returning heroes and no long military processions to mourn our soldiers lost ….
We as a community are forever in debt to these Gold Star Families as they have suffered a lifetime of unfilled memories and broken hearts and today’s solemn service is just a small gesture of our respect and admiration –we thank you, we honor you and you are and will always remain our Everett Family.