Photo Rebecca Poretsky
The auditorium filled with students seated to commemorate the country’s fallen soldiers who risked their lives for the safety of others on Thursday, May 18. The hockey team stood together in their uniforms, honoring Brian Arsenault, a former player and a soldier who lost his life fighting for the country. Brian’s family – along with others who had also lost a loved one – sat on the stage, ready to share their stories.
At this event, Gold Star Families [those who have lost family members in military service] shared what Memorial Day truly means to them. Brian Arsenault’s sister, Lindsey Arsenault, spoke at event, alongside executive director of Massachusetts Fallen Heroes Memorial and army combat veteran Dan Magoon, to bring awareness to students on the true significance of Memorial Day – and on the importance of recognizing and remembering those who have sacrificed everything.
“I think the driving force between [Gold Star Families] going into the schools, sharing our stories, and spreading the word about Memorial Day is really just to bring back what it really means and try to get people to be a little more sensitive about what this day stands for,” Arsenault said. “I truly feel that we’ve lost a little bit of its meaning in the past years. I know it’s definitely different for people who haven’t had that kind of loss, that don’t have that type of connection, but there’s still a chance to pause and reflect and take some time to do something meaningful or purposeful on that day.”
In this event, senior Nate Mott was awarded with the Spc Brian K. Arsenault scholarship. In applying, all candidates must submit an essay. Mott read his essay to the audience during the memorial.
Throughout the memorial, Magoon, Arsenault, and Mott continued to emphasize the importance of Memorial Day and how in recent years society has somewhat corrupted its original meaning. As a recipient of the scholarship, Mott talked about how veterans and their families need to be revered in his winning speech.
“When Memorial Day is mentioned, there is a stereotypical meaning that denotes ‘mattress sales and barbecues’, and this is something that needs to be changed because Memorial Day is a day to honor the sacrifices of the men and women in our military,” Mott said. “If it were not for these brave people, we would not even be able to enjoy cookouts or mattresses, so it is essential that we take a step back and honor with is truly important. Memorial Day holds a special meaning for myself and many others, so I think it is necessary for the Memorial Day stigma to be erased.”
During the memorial, a video made by MA Fallen Heroes Memorial was shown to students, showing the reality of those who have close connections to soldiers that have fought in the military.
“I think that high schoolers are a great age [to learn about this topic] because you are all old enough to understand what it means, especially with the video we showed,” Arsenault said. “The video, I think, is definitely a little bit triggering, it’s definitely emotional, but I think you all can handle that, you can handle the rawness of what the day really means.”
Throughout this event, students were asked to simply take time on their day off to reflect on those who allowed for the safety that is often taken for granted.
“I’m not here to point fingers and say ‘you need to sit and be sad on Memorial Day because you need to be remembering this and that,” Arsenault said. “I think it’s so much about balance and awareness so enjoy your cook-out, enjoy your time with your family and friends, have your laughs and your moments, because I’d being doing the same if Brian were here, and I’ll still being doing with my family. It’s just that we need to reflect on what the day stands for and take some time at any point in your day whether it’s a moment of silence or something that just gives some awareness for what the day is for.”