By Nance Ebert, Contributing Writer
Marlborough – Memorial Day is not about a big sale or getting a great deal on a new car. Memorial Day is about honoring those that gave their lives serving our country. It’s a day to remember those that did not return home.
On May 20, the students and faculty at Assabet Valley Regional Technical High School took part in Patriot Week, the Massachusetts Fallen Heroes statewide educational initiative honoring local veterans and families of the fallen.
The students had the honor of listening to Lindsey Arsenault, whose brother Brian was killed in Afghanistan, speak candidly about the importance of the Gold Star families and how their support helped her and her family get through a difficult time. Her mother, Leslie Arsenault was also there as well as several invited guests.
Chris Lessard, a combat veteran and the program director of Massachusetts Fallen Heroes Memorial Fund was also there to speak to the students.
“The whole point of this program is to educate our youth and explain to them what Memorial Day truly is about,” Lessard said. “Someone paid a high price for us to have the freedoms that we have. It’s also to convey that there is a difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day. There are also five traits that we are trying to encompass with the program. They are honor, service, sacrifice, character and selfless service.”
After Brian Arsenault was killed in Afghanistan, Lindsey became involved with Massachusetts Fallen Heroes, which offers support and connections with other family members struggling with the loss of relatives killed in service.
“On Sept. 4, 2014, the day my brother, Brian, was killed in action, our lives were eternally changed,” Lindsey said. “The biggest thing that I gained from this organization is the connections with other Gold Star families. Right off the bat, I met other siblings and got to connect with them. It’s really different between parents, siblings, etc. We all have those groups that we can go to.”
Assabet Valley Principal Mark Hollick, told the students: “This presentation is about bringing more meaning to Memorial Day. I recently saw a bumper sticker on the back of a car that said, ‘Freedom is not Free.’ I want you all to think about that and honor and show respect on this approaching holiday for those that have given their lives for our freedoms.”
After the speakers, a video was shown that included veterans from Massachusetts. Students were then invited to ask Lindsey questions.
“For the Gold Star families, every day is Memorial Day,” she told them. “There is not one day that passes, where we do not think of Brian and all of the families that we met who have also lost someone dear to them. We will remember their courage, sacrifices and level of commitment for our freedom.”