Westborough’s Liam Johnson reflects on work with veterans

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Westborough’s Liam Johnson reflects on work with veterans
Liam Johnson was recently elected to the Trustees of Soldiers’ Memorials. (Photo/Laura Hayes)

WESTBOROUGH – When Westborough’s annual town election rolled around this past March, Liam Johnson noticed that there was an open space on the Trustees of Soldiers’ Memorials.

He threw his hat in the ring.

It was an in-the-moment decision, he recalled.

“I didn’t know until I walked in, and I was like, ‘That’s interesting,’” he said.

Johnson told his mom, and he ended up winning the seat after securing two write-in votes.

Trustees hold variety of duties

The trustees — made up of the Select Board chair, three veterans and two nonveterans — are responsible for the care and maintenance of the town’s 10 memorials.

He had done work with the veterans before. Johnson, who is an Eagle Scout, has walked in the Memorial Day parade with his fellow scouts and participated in name readings. He’s helped plant flags in all of the cemeteries in town.

“I’ve really done as much as a student, I guess, could before taking on this position,” Johnson said.

Johnson has relatives who are veterans. Some of them are listed on the memorials in front of the Forbes Building.

“It’s really important to recognize what they have done for the town and the country as a whole because so many have done so much,” Johnson said of local veterans. “… It’s really important to keep their names remembered so that they’re not forgotten, especially people from some of the earlier wars. It’s important to keep them in the town’s history.”

Johnson turned 18 about a month before town elections this spring. The search for opportunities to help out had been tough, at times.

As a younger high school student, he said, options were sometimes limited to placing flags.

“I guess this was the next step to help out in a bigger way,” he said.

Johnson continues family tradition of service

Being involved in Westborough government runs in the family.

Liam’s dad, Ian Johnson, was elected to the Select Board in 2011 and previously served on the Advisory Finance Committee for nine years.

“I was always following him going to meetings randomly — just getting a feel for that,” Johnson said.

Ian told the Community Advocate that he was excited to see his son be elected and accept the position.

“Seeing him become actively involved with the committee since the election and to see his enthusiasm and commitment makes me proud,” said Ian, who is also a member of the trustees.

The trustees meet about six times a year.

“We’ve had a couple of meetings, but there’s a bunch of new stuff we’re working on. So, that’s cool,” Johnson said.

Part of his work on the trustees has involved working with art students at Westborough High School to design memorials.

Some of the trustees’ other work involves taking inventory of flags at soldiers’ graves, maintaining the memorials and working with anyone who is interested in creating a new memorial.

The maintenance work includes cleaning the memorials.

The trustees recently also had the flag at the memorial in Pine Grove Cemetery painted.

The trustees help out with Westborough’s Memorial Day parade, while members also periodically help out with or organize flag plantings.

Johnson shares advice

Johnson graduated Westborough High School this spring and plans to attend Holy Cross University in Worcester.

He’ll be close by to attend meetings, though he noted he can participate virtually, as well.

His advice to other high school students who might want to get involved is to reach out to local veterans boards. Students can also connect with student council, National Honor Society or other community service clubs at their schools.

“Be on the lookout for opportunities, and if you can’t find any that suit you, the boards are always open if you want to come talk or shoot somebody an email,” Johnson said.

Westborough’s Liam Johnson reflects on work with veterans
The Trustees of Soldiers’ Memorials recently also had the flag at the memorial in Pine Grove Cemetery painted. (Photo/Laura Hayes)

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