9/11/17 Keynote Address, Hopedale, MA 

Remarks at the Hopedale 9/11 Remembrance Ceremony

Thomas A. Wesley

Hopedale Board of Selectman

11 September 2017

Let Us Live to Make Men Free

Some 140 years before 9/11, in the early morning hours of November 18, 1861, Julia Ward Howe crafted the immortal words to one of our countries most beloved standards, The Battle Hymn of the Republic. Its’ tune was lifted from an inspirational ode to the abolitionist John Brown but the words flowed from Ms. Howe as if possessed. She was afraid to fall asleep lest her divinely creative muse leave her. 

“As He died to make men Holy, Let us die to make men free.
His truth is marching on.” 

Civil War had engulfed these United States in fury and flame. If the salvation of mankind required the sacrifice of God’s only begotten son then surely the salvation of the Union was owed no less a offering upon the alter of freedom.

Over a number of years, the words to the Hymn were altered. The word “die” was replaced with “live.” “Let us live to make men free.” The origin of the change is unclear but perhaps it reflects a realization that the fight for freedom and justice is more complicated than the mere slaughter of lives. Paraphrasing the great American World War II General George S. Patton, “No man ever won a war by dying for his country. The idea is to have the other guy die for his.”   

But it is more than this. Much more. War should never be the inescapable alternative. At the heart of all conflict is injustice and the absence of simple human kindness. It is not only a refusal to let people in but a commitment to keeping people out. 

The War Between the States ended slavery on paper but we all know the sordid history of race relations in this country that persisted for another century and still persists to this day. The war did not teach us much. 

And this brings us to this ceremony to honor the fallen of September 11, 2001. Today marks the 16th anniversary of that horrible day that changed the lives of all of us. And not for the better. The attack left holes in our lives and in our hearts. It loosed a war with far away peoples and civilizations whose worlds we barely comprehend. Far more lives have been lost in seeking justice than in offering it. Far more treasure has been spent in seeking retribution than in showing kindness.

And this was precisely what we as a people asked our government to do. It has resulted in our nation’s longest war in our history. And this war continues today and I do not feel any more sanguine about the losses that occurred on that beautiful September morning. We have unleashed a mighty force upon our fellow man but the course of history is unaltered. Those who perished in New York and Washington and Pennsylvania are still gone. The beauty of their lives remain torn from us. And they have been met in the afterlife by thousands more casualties in the fields of combat. Met by the innocents we call collateral damage. Met by the refugees who tried to flee but perished instead. Sixteen years later we are no more secure than when we began. I beat that drum of war and retribution as hard as anyone but I feel no satisfaction.  

The most effective way to keep a weed from growing on your lawn is to have healthy grass. A weed cannot take root when the lawn is lush and verdant. But a healthy lawn will be compromised by the unhealthy ones that surround it. It is not enough to have islands of prosperity. It is impossible to keep the weeds out for the long term. Our goal must be to seek to share the prosperity; to find ways of providing for all, not only for some; to lay down the burden of protecting what is ours and recognizing that what any of us has comes not from us but from our creator.

The way lies forward through kindness, justice and humility more than through bloodshed, bullets and bombs. Rather, let us live a life that makes men free

May we have the courage to begin to change the course of human history in our lifetimes. And may we do so in the honor of those whose names are etched upon the marble walls of the 9/11 memorials and on the tombstones of the soldiers and those names blown away in the sand of unmarked graves in the deserts of the Middle East.

May it be so.

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Memorial Day 2015 Comments

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Hopedale: Wesley takes selectman seat in landslide

5.12.15 HOPEDALE – Fred Oldfield casts his ballot during the town election in Hopedale, Tuesday. Daily News Staff Photo/ John Thornton MILFORD DAILYNews Staff Photo/ John Thornton MILFORD DAILY

By Zachary Comeau/Daily News Staff

Posted May. 12, 2015 at 9:11 PM
Updated May 12, 2015 at 9:12 PM

HOPEDALE – A former GOP candidate for Congress, Tom Wesley, took the open seat on the Board of Selectmen by a landslide vote, gaining 273 votes to Park Commission Chairman Dan Iacovelli’s 60.

“It always feels better to win, but it also feels good to fight the good fight,” Wesley said after the results were announced.

Wesley, who was defeated in the 2010 race for the 2nd Congressional District seat by Richard Neal, D-Springfield, said more changes can be made in local politics.

“The issues are very real, manageable and solvable, unlike sometimes at the federal level where you’re just a voice in the wilderness,” he said. “At the local level, you can actually build coalitions, be proactive and solve some problems.”

For the first year, Wesley said he hopes to “get (his) feet wet” and understand the issues facing the town, but said he will continue to focus on education, economy and evenhandedness.

“I’m honored to be selected by the town,” Wesley said, thanking Iacovelli for running a “classy campaign.”

The seat was left vacant by Janet Jacaruso, the longtime town clerk and selectwoman who passed away last month.

“I certainly hope to do honor by the seat vacated by (Jacaruso),” he said.

Ted Kempster, Wesley’s treasurer, said Wesley spent about $1,550 on his campaign, including signs, a newspaper ad and door hangers.

Iacovelli, on the other hand, admitted outside the Draper Gym polling location Tuesday and he did not spend a single dime on his campaign.

“I think signs don’t win elections,” Iacovelli said Monday.

Hopedale resident Mark Niziak said he voted for Wesley, citing the need for a different voice and to wake up the smalltown politics.

“There’s a lot of apathy in town politics – the nature of the beast,” he said. “Hopefully (Wesley) will generate interest.”

School Committee incumbents Grace Pool, the current chairwoman, and Lori Hampsch, kept their seats for another three years.

Town Moderator Francis Larkin, a former judge and law professor, retained his seat after serving for more than 20 years.

Other incumbents who ran unopposed include Louis Arcudi III for the Board of Health, Jason MacDonald for the Housing Authority, Eli Potty for the Road Commission, Katherine Wright for Board of Library Trustees and Robert Burns for the Water and Sewer Commission.

Newcomers include Donald Howes for the Parks Commission and Barbara Oman for the Housing Authority.

According to interim Town Clerk James Mullen, the turnout was only 9 percent, and only 337 voters cast a ballot out of 3,719 registered voters.

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I Run for Hopedale

TAW Profile

When my family pulled up roots to move to Hopedale 10 years ago our neighbor’s young boy waved goodbye and said, “There’s always hope in Hopedale.” And he was right.
There was hope when Adin Ballou founded the Utopian town early in the 19th century. Hope was restored when the Draper brothers moved their plant to Hopedale. And hope remained when the Draper plant shut down in the 1970’s. Those visionaries gave us a terrific ride for more than a century. Nothing lasts forever and the torch has been passed to this generation as stewards of a great legacy.

Hopedale is once again poised to become a hub of economic activity in the region. Imagine the Draper properties reused to accommodate our new rail traffic and the potential of a commuter rail station. Or the possibility of a mixed use building with apartments, shopping, performing arts center, new town offices, and quarters for our seniors and for our children.
Imagine our school system aligned to support both the career aspirations of its students and the job needs of the region. Imagine a school as rich in the arts as well as the sciences. Imagine a town tranquil enough to raise our children and vibrant enough to entice them to stay as adults.
Imagine a town excited about the opportunities of the present and enthusiastic about the prospects for the future that encourages widespread participation in town government.
And imagine a town that supports evenhandedness across the needs of multiple generations.
Hope alone is not a strategy. Hopedale must develop a strategic vision and work towards its fulfillment year over year. We must have the confidence to see over the horizon and use our long term vision as a guide. At the same time we must continue to look around each corner to ensure we are maintaining our fiscal diligence to keep Hopedale affordable for all who live and work here.
God has granted me the talent to lead and I never shrink from that responsibility. Much is at stake in every election and this one is no different. It has been said that the best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is today.
I run for Hopedale.

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Remarks on Memorial Day 2014 Hopedale, Massachusetts

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May 28, 2014 · 9:29 pm