A U.S. Marine killed overseas was remembered Friday in his small Vermont hometown, with the dedication of a memorial pavilion that will host community events.
“Bakersfield lost a leader, and Vermont lost a hero,” Gov. Phil Scott, R-Vermont, said of Lance Corporal Lucas Williams of Bakersfield at Friday’s dedication service.
Quiet Bakersfield has never forgotten Williams, who was killed in a Humvee wreck during a training exercise in Kuwait in 1998. Williams was just 19 years old.
“I feel his spirit kind of alive and well whenever I’m in this space,” childhood friend Sarah Jo Willey Marcotte said after the dedication ceremony.
Lucas’s mom Rosalie has been busy for the better part of two decades hosting youth programs in her son’s name, always wanting a permanent structure to house fishing derbies, Halloween parties, hunter safety classes, after-school offerings, and more.
“This is Lucas’s wish,” Rosalie Williams told necn, gesturing toward the pavilion. “Lucas always wanted a place for kids to go and have fun. From the very beginning, he always said, ‘Mom, there isn’t anything to do in a small rural town.’ And I was never going to quit. I was determined to make his wishes come true.”
Williams said it took a lot of patience, organizing, volunteering, and fundraising to make the community pavilion a reality.
“She really is holding to the honor of her son,” Franklin Northeast Supervisory Union afterschool programs director Heather Moore observed of Rosalie Williams. “Youth work, youth development was really important to him.”
Now that the Lucas J. Williams Memorial Pavilion is here, Rosalie Williams said it’ll remind her every time it’s used that her Marine son was loved and made a difference in his community.