I am writing to thank the people of Winchester and Woburn for their overwhelming support of the Doherty family during the wake and funeral of their son and brother Glen Doherty. I also want to send a special thank you to Woburn Police Chief Robert Ferullo and the Winchester and Woburn Police Departments as a whole. I would also like to thank Mrs. Doherty’s neighbors in Woburn, who of their own accord, planted ﬂags all along her street and drive way, even ﬁnding a Navy ﬂag for her door.
As a fellow son of Winchester, I was honored to see the turn out and incredible compassion shown on the days following Glen’s death. Glen and I have been friends for 28 years, he was my brother, and his family and mine are forever linked. We grew up in Winchester; we were educated by its schools, nurtured by this community, and were proud of where we were from, Winchester, Massachusetts, no matter where in the world we found ourselves.
I would like to pass on a few observations related to me by friends and co workers of Glen. They came from all over to mourn with us. His friends from San Diego and Utah were in their words “blown away” by the level of patriotism, love, and kindness shown to the family and them. One friend stated well after the event, “it still gives me chills thinking of those people lining the streets, even now I am speechless to describe it.”
A coworker and team mate of Glen said to me, “Glen wasn’t the ﬁrst to die, he won’t be the last, and I have done this before. But this (waiving his hands to encompass the entirety of those days) does not happen everywhere. These people are amazing and now I know why Glen was the way he was; he is from here.”
I rode with members of Glen’s team during the funeral procession. These are men, hard men, trained to the umpteenth degree, culled from the best that our armed services produce. They have already seen war and its results way too many times. Suffice it to say, the box of Kleenex was empty by the time we arrived at St. Eulalia Church, not just for the death of our friend, but for the outpouring of support and patriotism by the people of this community. They told me it was the children lining thestreets holding ﬂags that broke them.
When Glen’s body was being escorted through Connecticut to Massachusetts, the Connecticut State Police arranged for a State Police escort. This was done by a fellow son of Winchester who is now a Sergeant with the Connecticut State Police.
The escorting agents told me they had never seen anything like it, “it was midnight and the highway was empty except for this state police vehicle in front of us and every exit was blocked by a state trooper, out of his car saluting.”
My observations were of pride in this community, pride in my town, and the state that made me who I am today. The things I witnessed that day, the 80-year-old former Marine walking his granddaughter and pausing to straighten his crooked spine to stand at attention one last time, the WWII veteran on Cambridge street who stood from his wheel chair to salute in full uniform, the high school student who held a sign that read “Glen you are my Hero, and I hope to be you one day”, the three young men holding the navy seal ﬂag at the church, and the many familiar faces of parents and friends.
Most important of all were the children of Winchester, young as they were standing with ﬂags. This is what was telling! Parents of these Winchester children, I thank you! You did not shield them from the stark truth of service, but allowed them to participate, and understand as best they could the true cost of our freedom, and the cost of heroism.
I am sure there were a lot of questions in those days, good questions, questions we all need to answer as parents. For Glen is not the only son or daughter this community has sent into harm’s way, nor will he be the last. It is times like these, outpourings of support and love that give us courage to do our jobs, to leave our families at home and risk our safety to protect others. For it is communities like Winchester and Woburn that make it worthwhile and make tangible the feeling ofpatriotism.
On this Veterans Day, remember the children that have been sent forth to ﬁght for us past and present, have those conversations with your children, thank a neighbor whose child is serving. For these individuals do not serve a particular president or branch of Government, they serve us, the people of this nation, through the Governments we elect.
I thank you Winchester and Woburn, from the bottom of my heart for the send off you gave to my friend Glen, you did him proud!