MILFORD, Mass. –
The Massachusetts National Guard held a ceremony to dedicate a memorial to their fallen Soldiers at the Massachusetts National Guard’s Joint Force Headquarters here, May 21, 2009.
Maj. Gen. Joseph C. Carter, The Adjutant General, Massachusetts National Guard, dedicated the memorial wall and a battlefield cross in memory of 11 Soldiers who died in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.
The memorial relates the story of each Soldier’s personal sacrifice and serves as a reminder of the gravity of a Guardsmen’s commitment to the Nation.
Addressing an audience comprised of Massachusetts National Guard service members, civilian employees and leaders representing Federal and State Government organizations, Maj. Gen. Carter said, “Unfortunately, we in the Massachusetts National Guard have learned the meaning of sacrifice in its fullest measure, the supreme sacrifice that is biblical in magnitude, where one’s life is forfeited so that others may live to persevere and prosper. Theirs is the greatest sacrifice, one that we must never forget. Their families have endured and continue to endure, the unending pain of separation and loss. We must not forget them either.”
The wall is adorned with the encased photos of the Soldiers, identification tags and an inscription from the Soldiers chain of command. One of the Soldiers remembered by the dedication was Spc. Matthew M. Pollini, 772nd Military Police Company. Pollini, 21, of Rockland, Mass., died Jan. 22, 2009, near Al-Kut, Iraq of injuries sustained during a vehicle roll-over.
Pollini’s unit is still serving in Iraq and members of the unit were unable to attend his funeral or the memorial wall dedication. When this happens, Soldiers who are still in a theater of operation such as Iraq and Afghanistan often hold memorial services by arranging a set of boots, rifle and helmet to form a battlefield cross. The battlefield cross at the Massachusetts National Guard Joint Force Headquarters honors the tradition.
After the dedication ceremony, Maj. Gen. Joseph C. Carter, The Adjutant General Massachusetts National Guard, Brig. Gen. Thomas J. Sellars, Land Component Commander, Massachusetts Army National Guard and Command Sgt. Maj. David Costa, State Command Sergeant Major, Massachusetts National Guard, placed their command coins in the boots of the battlefield cross as a token of honor and respect to the memory of the Soldiers.
In the future, officials, dignitaries and VIPs that visit the headquarters will be invited to visit the wall; those who have coins will be given an opportunity to place them in the boots of the battlefield cross.
Each Soldier that has made the ultimate sacrifice to the Nation has contributed the collective greatness of the American people, but for every fallen Soldier there is a family’s personal story of loss that must not be forgotten.