Last Wednesday it was our privilege to be guests at the UMass Lowell 2013 Flag Raising Ceremony & Veterans Day Celebration held outside Cumnock Hall/North Campus. The flag-raising ceremony paid tribute to UMass Lowell’s more than 1,450 student veterans, 2013 Veterans Alumni Hall of Fame inductees and veterans throughout the region. Led by student veterans and Chancellor Marty Meehan, the program included remarks from Congresswoman Niki Tsongas who was raised in a military family and keynote speaker Colonel Francis B. Magurn – the Deputy Land Component Commander of the Massachusetts Army National Guard. The UMass Lowell Marching Band and the USAF ROTC Detachmenrt #345 Honor Guard also participated. The number of student veterans has risen from a few hundred to nearly 1500. Here’s a brief clip of the flag raising and student vet comments.
Prior to the ceremony I had a wonderful conversation with special guest Jim Derby from Lawrence. Jim is 94 years old, moving about pretty well and sharp as the proverbial tack. He served in the 8th Army Air Force stationed in England. He was the navigator on a B-17 bomber. He talked with Bill about that and his 24 bombing mission over Europe. He and I spoke about Lawrence, what it was like there over the years , the families in South Lawrence and how Dan Rivera would be a good Mayor! The Cryans were another Hall of Fame guest family. One member drove overnight from Baltimore to attend. We speculated about being related… that Meehan-Kirwin connection. Old friend Bill McDevitt – now on staff in the Veterans Service office – a Vietnam veteran who saw some tough action helped host the group while awaiting the ceremony. Anne Marie and Bob Page were part of the group.
A few weeks ago Bill’s cousin the late James W. Sweeney, a US Navy aviator and Navy Cross, Silver Star and Air Medal recipient was inducted into the UML Veterans Hall of Fame and was one of those remembered at the Flag Raising. I wrote about him and other family members last year on Veterans Day in “Remembering Our Veterans ~ Our Family.”
Kudos to UMass Lowell and the Chancellor for the focus on our veterans – honoring those past alums and those in the student body.