Malden celebrated Veterans Day with several meaningful events over the weekend. Despite the rain, Saturday, November 10th began with the dedication of the PFC Jeremiah J. Kelleher Memorial Square on the corner of Newhall and Main Streets. Director of Veterans Services Kevin Jarvis, Mayor Gary Christenson and Senator Jason Lewis welcomed members of the City Council, School Committee and many members of the Kelleher family to remember a true hero of the Korean War. It was particularly poignant that the Massachusetts State Police Honor Guard stood at attention throughout the ceremony.
Jerry was born on September 26, 1931 to immigrant parents from Ireland and was raised in Malden. He answered his Nation’s call to service, taking part in five different battles during the Korean War. Wounded in battle with gunshot injuries to both legs, he recovered in Japan and was sent back to his unit. During another battle he heroically saved four wounded comrades by carrying them one at a time from the battlefield while under enemy fire. Jerry was later awarded the Bronze Star Medal with Combat V for Valor for his heroism on the battlefield that day. Jerry would be wounded one last time in Korea when he was hit with shrapnel.
Jerry returned to Malden following his discharge, married Roseanne Salie and together they had eight children. Tragically, Roseanne passed away suddenly at the young age of 37. Jerry later met Jean Preshong, got married and together they raised their combined family of 12 children. They were married for 41 years. Jerry continued to serve his country as a Police Officer with the former Metropolitan District Commission and then with the Massachusetts State Police where he was honored to wear Badge #1 until retiring in 2006. Jerry was also the past president of the Malden Irish American, The Malden Eagles and The Organization of Clubs. Sadly, Jerry passed away in 2016 at the age of 85.
On Sunday, November 11th the City of Malden’s Annual Veterans Day Parade kicked off at 10 AM at the corner of Elm and Pleasant Streets. Participants included veterans’ groups, Boston Irish Pipes & Drums, Malden school bands, Girl and Boy Scouts and more who marched along a new route that was led by the Malden Police and Fire Honor Guards. The route continued onto Highland Avenue, turned right onto Malden Street and ended at the newly refurbished World War I Monuments at Devir Park on the corner of Malden Street and the Fellsway.
Director of Veterans Services Kevin Jarvis proceeded over the solemn and moving WWI Monument Dedication that took place at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month to coincide with the signing of the armistice that ended WWI 100 years ago on November 11, 1918. Mayor Gary Christenson, Senator Jason Lewis and Councillor Paul Condon offered remarks. Retired Brigadier General Leonid Kondratiuk, the Commissioner of the Massachusetts WWI Centennial Commission, was the guest speaker. Mr. Kondratiuk fascinated the crowd discussing his research in Europe crawling through the trenches and caves that were used by our WWI heroes and finding objects that they left behind.
Truly exciting was the point in the ceremony when the refurbished World War I Monuments were unveiled. Kevin Jarvis invited family members of veterans whose names are now included on the plaques to help remove the red, white and blue tarps covering them. The WWI Monument Restoration Committee worked hard over the last 18 months to restore the original 1920 Monument and add two new plaques containing the names of all Malden veterans who served in WWI. The original monument contained 528 names of the “Edgeworth” area veterans and did not include 2,293 Malden men and women who also served during WWI. The Committee worked to raise funds for the project receiving a Mass State Historical Grant, and sizable contributions from several Malden businesses, including Idle Hands Craft Ales, Mixx 360 & Town Line Luxury Lanes, the Adelaide Breed Bayrd Foundation, members of the City Council and local residents who donated through the Committee’s “Adopt a Veteran” campaign.
Malden High School student Dimitri Borrero who opened the event with the National Anthem, later read the war poem “In Flanders Fields,” written during the First World War by Lt. Colonel John McCare. Dimitri then helped to close out the ceremony by inviting the crowd to join him in an enthusiastic rendition of the patriotic song “Over There,” which was designed to get Americans to enlist in the Army during World Wars I and II.
“This event was a shining moment in the City of Malden,” said Mayor Gary Christenson. “I’m truly grateful to all who worked so hard in getting these monuments built – they will forever honor the men and women who so bravely served in World War I.
Released by the Office of Mayor Gary Christenson
Photos by City of Malden