Matthew Sargent named Marlborough Labor Day parade grand marshal

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Matthew Sargent named Marlborough Labor Day parade grand marshal
Matthew Sargent will be leading the Marlborough Labor Day Parade this year as its grand marshal.

MARLBOROUGH – Life-long Marlborough resident, Matthew Sargent, can be found in the city’s cemeteries cleaning and tagging veteran’s markers with photos of the deceased and notes detailing their lives.

Now, Sargent is being recognized for his service to the city and was appointed grand marshal of the Labor Day Parade.

“I was very honored to be named next grand marshal,” Sargent said.

Sargent hopes that, with this new title, he can motivate more Marlborough residents to share their stories of veteran relatives who have passed.

Meet Matthew Sargent

Sargent is a third generation Marlborough resident who is currently an HVAC mechanic at C&W Services with Local 877 at the Prudential Center in Boston and a Navy reservist as a Strategic Sealift Officer, where he is in charge of the military sealift command ships.

“My career in the reserves really supplements my merchant career and supports the Navy,” Sargent said. “Bouncing around and doing different things for the Navy has broadened my horizons and it’s always a sense of pride to be in my uniform.”

Sargent has worked to honor Marlborough’s veterans through a number of ways.

He helped organize the Medal of Liberty Ceremony that honored residents who died during World War II.

He helped provide the city with research that led to the naming of the Goodnow Brothers School and the softball field at the High School after Richard Demers and baseball field at Whitcomb after Harold Cole.

Honor roll

After graduating from the Massachusetts Maritime Academy in 2009, Sargent spent nine years sailing around the United States, Europe, and Asia, with the Military Sealift Command and the American Maritime Officers Union.

During that time, he was stationed on the USS Mount Whitney in Italy, where he toured the Sicily-Rome American Cemetery and Memorial and the Commonwealth of Nations Anzio War Cemetery.

While touring the cemeteries, he paid his respects to veterans from Marlborough, including John Chase and Alfred Gregoire. When Sargent returned to Marlborough, he wondered who these men were and felt “disappointed” when he could not gather more information about their lives.

Matthew Sargent named Marlborough Labor Day parade grand marshal
Matthew Sargent will be leading the Marlborough Labor Day Parade this year as its grand marshal. (Photo/Caroline Gordon)

So, Sargent decided to take matters into his own hands and began conducting research to discover more about the stories of deceased Marlborough veterans.

A few years ago, he became involved with the Marlborough Historical Society – for which he now serves as a trustee – and the veterans agency to create an “honor roll.”

The honor roll is made up of a photo compilation of deceased Marlborough veterans. Sargent’s honor roll dates back to veterans who died in the French and Indian War and includes those who died in recent wars, such as in Afghanistan.

He said his research is still growing and it “feels nice to put a face to a name.”

Veteran Services Officer Mike Hennessey supported his research and served as a mentor.

“Mike takes care of the living veterans and I take care of the dead ones,” Sargent said.

Hennessey said Sargent has “continuously gone above and beyond” honoring deceased Marlborough veterans.

Tags tell the deceased’s life

A few years ago, Sargent began participating in the Sons of the American Revolution (SAR), which is a lineage society for those with an ancestor who fought in the Revolutionary War.

His grandfather was a World War II veteran who served in the Navy. He is buried in Maplewood Cemetery.

After Sargent saw a laminated tag describing the deceased’s life at another cemetery, he decided to create a similar tag for his grandfather.

Soon enough, the tag caught the attention of residents in a Marlborough Facebook group, who also wanted one for their veteran relatives.

“I said, ‘I can help you. I can do one for your family too.’ It’s grown from there,” he said.

Sargent said the historical society and veterans agency has been a “huge help” as they provide money for him to purchase the grave markers.

“It still feels overwhelming at times because it’s such a big project, but it’s nice to see progress with putting up the markers, putting out more photos, and telling more stories each year,” he said.

Labor Day parade

Now, Sargent is being honored for his work in Marlborough.

“Even though it’s a big city, there’s a sense of community in a lot of respects,” he said. “More places should strive for that sense of community.”

Mayor Arthur Vigeant noted Sargent has a “keen” interest in honoring veterans and volunteering for the City with “numerous initiatives” and often sharing new ideas to supplement services.

He added, “He not only serves his country but also dedicates time to his local community in a unique, quiet, and behind-the-scenes type of way. I’m proud to have the opportunity to recognize Matt for his continued community involvement and contributions.”

The Labor Day parade will be held on Sept. 5.

The parade will feature both new and favorite entries. According to a release from Vigeant’s office, there are plans to complement Sargent’s efforts to preserve the past by adding new re-enactments to the parade.

For more information on the parade, visit https://marlboroughlabordayparade.com/.

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