Framingham marks Veterans Day at newly revitalized park dedicated to those who served November 11, 2021
Lillian Eden Metrowest Daily News
Opening comments by
The park was built in 1953 and it was updated in the 1980s. Every 35 years we spend more money on a useless piece of land, like a cemetery.
Lot of eternal work for DPW. For as long as the grass grows.
How did Framingham acquire this land? By eminent domain?
Our veterans are labelled "foreign terrorists" in their battle area.
Anybody notice how our veterans trained the Afghan army?
Veterans and their usefulness is way overrated in our culture.
Imagine a fleet of B-52's dropping bombs

Accept democracy or we'll beat it into you.

FRAMINGHAM - They tried to stay off the newly seeded, soon-to-be-lawn. But the crowds attending Thursday's Veterans Day celebration couldn't help but spill over the equally new ADA-compliant walkways that circle Framingham's gleaming new Veterans Park.

Also among the new features at the park are flagpoles, plaques, landscaping and lights that make the park accessible - and noticeable - at night.

"Anytime you have a park and it gets let go, it's kind of sad when it's meant to honor somebody," said Wayland resident Susan Devlin, whose father, John Murtagh, was the veterans agent in Framingham for many years and helped build and maintain the park. At the newly revitalized Veterans Park in Framingham, state Senate President Karen Spilka presents the Medal of Liberty to Maryellen Rupp, niece of Sgt. William Dennis, who died in a Japanese prison camp in 1942, during Veterans Day ceremonies, Nov. 11, 2021.

Murtagh died in 1994, but he is remembered at the park.

"We got a bench, because Dad would have wanted to be here," Devlin said.

Framingham police Lt. Robert Downing was key to the project, as were a host of volunteers who spent countless hours working since earlier this year to be able to unveil the new park on Veterans Day.

"To see it lit up at night is just terrific," said Paul Landers, executive director of the Framingham Housing Authority, who was on the committee for revitalizing the park. "We were just so nervous about things not coming in on time... We didn't know if the flag poles were going to make it, if the benches were going to make it." Framingham police Lt. Robert Downing, shown saluting during Veterans Day ceremonies, helped spearhead renovations at Veterans Park, Nov. 11, 2021.

As for Thursday's ceremony, remarks were made by Mayor Yvonne Spicer and local veterans. State Senate President Karen Spilka presented a Medal of Liberty to Sgt. William Dennis, who died in a Japanese prison camp in 1942. The medal, which is awarded posthumously to Massachusetts service members who have died in action, was accepted by Dennis' neice, Maryellen Rupp, a longtime city employee.

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The pledge of allegiance was recited by Framingham Junior Scout Troop 82355, and the national anthem was sung by a Framingham High School senior Emily Spaulding.

The park has not been renovated in more than 30 years. It slowly fell into disrepair, the walkways crumbling and lacking commemoration for veterans past the Vietnam War. At the newly revitalized Veterans Park in Framingham, Framingham Assistant Fire Chief John Schultz takes a photo of the scene from atop a ladder truck before Veterans Day ceremonies, Nov. 11, 2021.

"It was a wonderful ceremony, it was great to see such a huge crowd here," said longtime Framingham resident David Hornfischer, whose late son, James, wrote books about naval history that are "almost required reading" for service members.

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Indeed, the Navy awarded James Hornfischer, who died in June, the highest honor given to a civilian: the Navy Distinguished Public Service Award. A local spot is now available to commemorate his work: bricks and a memorial bench adorned with the titles of his books were part of the park's revitalization.

Of the park, David Hornfishcher said, "It's a nice tribute to our veterans."

Lillian Eden can be reached at 617-459-6409 or Follow her on Twitter @LillianWEden.

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