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A Matter of Respect
Paul Mawn has a mission.
Paul E. Mawn '63 thinks his hometown should have an appropriate memorial for its Vietnam and Korean War dead. More than a year ago, the Sudbury, Massachusetts, resident noticed, on either side of the town's World War II memorial, "two pathetic small rocks, almost obscured by overgrown weeds, with a small plastic-covered sign" noting gratitude for any Sudbury residents (none were named) who had served in each conflict. This "gross oversight" prompted the retired U.S. Naval Reserve captain to write a letter, which ran in the local paper just before Veterans Day, urging the town to remedy the situation.
Mawn had already discovered, using the Internet, that only one name on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., listed Sudbury as the deceased's home of record. (He has not yet learned of any Korean War casualties from the town.) His letter generated support from a handful of fellow residents; then the discovery that the dead soldier went to high school on the Cape, and no longer has family in town, caused other residents to ask why Sudbury should commemorate him. Although the town has cleaned up the site, and the town manager, as Mawn reported in his letter, has agreed that fitting memorials are long overdue, nothing more has been done.
Mawn blamed the original oversight, at best, on "inexcusable but benign neglect or ignorance," at worst, on a "naive, misdirected...left-wing minority" who have taken "pleasure in trashing all things related to the U.S. military over the last 30 years." He hasn't given up his belief that duty and honor require a proper memorial for those who died in the service of their country. "Rather than spend six months of my life politicking to get this done," he says, "I might just do it myself."