Several Gold Star families from Vermont were honored at Fenway Park in Boston in a Memorial Day service held before Monday’s game between the Boston Red Sox and the Toronto Blue Jays.
Heather Sheehan of Milton, Vermont lost her husband, Sgt. Kevin Sheehan, in a 2004 mortar attack in Iraq.
“It’s really great to be with this group of people,” Sheehan said of the Gold Star families that traveled together from Vermont to the ballpark. “We have that common bond.”
Sheehan was one of 29 Gold Star family members from the Green Mountains whose sacrifices were honored on the field before the Memorial Day game.
Kevin McLaughlin of West Bolton, Vermont, whose son, Sgt. Scott McLaughlin, died from enemy fire in Iraq in 2005, had the high-pressure job of throwing out the first pitch.
“We were always afraid Scott would get forgotten, along with the rest of the soldiers,” McLaughlin told necn. “But I don’t think that’s going to happen.”
The Vermont National Guard Fallen Heroes Memorial Committee organized the tour, with donations from businesses, individuals, and the Red Sox making it all possible.
“We need to do whatever we can do to take care of the families and show the respect that’s due for everything they’ve been through and continue to go through,” said Lt. Col. Dave Leonard of the Vermont National Guard.
For Kim Bean of Bridport, whose son, Spec. Alan Bean, was killed 14 years ago in Iraq in the same attack that claimed Kevin Sheehan’s life, Memorial Day brought a mix of profound sadness, followed by deep pride in the respect shown for her son’s service.
“I’m so happy for the people who made it happen for me,” Bean said of the trip to Fenway.
The Gold Star families got player escorts onto the field and loud applause from the Fenway fans before the singing of the National Anthem.
“I would say you’d find a very patriotic crowd here, for sure,” Heather Sheehan said.
The Vermont Guard pledged to remember and revere these families not just on Memorial Day, but year-round.