Friday, February 8, 2013

Norton to Dediciate Park to Local Hero

This column originally appeared in The Sun Chronicle on Friday, February 8, 2013


By Bill Gouveia

We use the words “thank you” so much that we sometimes need to be reminded of their real meaning.

We thank people for things they do, things they express, and even for extending us the simple common courtesies everyone expects. It’s a nice thing to say, and even nicer to hear when said sincerely.

But sometimes saying “thank you” just isn’t enough. Sometimes we need to go further, to demonstrate our heartfelt and overwhelming appreciation for someone. Sometimes actions speak much more loudly than words, and when what someone has done requires a real and tangible symbol of our gratitude.

That is the position the Town of Norton and its citizens find themselves in, trying to say “thank you” to departed hero Master Sergeant Gregory Trent. Master Sergeant Trent was a 1992 graduate of Norton High School who lost his life in service to his country in Afghanistan in August 2012. According to town officials, he is the first son or daughter of Norton to lose their life in battle since perhaps the Korean War or before.

Master Sergeant Trent was no ordinary soldier, if indeed there is such a thing. His list of accomplishments and awards are far too lengthy to list here, but included: The Bronze Star, The Purple Heart, The Defense Meritorious Service Medal, four Good Conduct medals and a host of others. He was a true American hero in the very best sense of the term.

Now his town struggles to find an appropriate way to thank him and recognize his brave contributions. So Norton formed a Gold Star Committee charged with honoring not only Master Sergeant Trent, but others who may make the ultimate sacrifice for us at home. They have decided to dedicate a piece of town property to be named “Master SGT Gregory Trent Memorial Park”.

Located along the main road in the center of town, it will feature a monument dedicated to Master Sergeant Trent and any future Norton soldiers who may tragically perish in defense of America. The plan is to inscribe on the monument “A place of solemn reflection dedicated by a grateful community”.

The park and the monument will be built with private funds raised by committee members and local citizens and businesses. It will truly be a community project, a grassroots effort undertaken by people with no motive other than honoring those who stood in our place and defended us all.

There will be a raffle to raise money for the worthy cause held at Clark Center on the campus of Wheaton College Saturday, March 16th at 6:30 pm. Those wishing simply to make donations to the memorial park effort can do so by writing a check to Town of Norton/MSG Trent Account and mailing it to Norton Town Hall, 70 East Main Street, Norton, MA 02766.

In a special fundraising effort, bottles of wine bearing the name and picture of Master Sergeant Trent are available for sale with a portion of the proceeds going to fund the memorial project. They can currently be purchased at The Swirling Wine store on Route 123 across from the proposed park as well as ordered by the bottle or the case. A 5K road race is also in the planning stages, to be held in May.

The Gold Star committee hopes to raise enough money to create a perpetual care fund to keep the park maintained. It is the equivalent of lighting an eternal flame honoring Master Sergeant Trent. And while we all fervently hope no one else has to die in battle, we know they inevitably will – and this park will stand in tribute to their sacrifice as well.

This effort will be made up of Norton citizens, former citizens, businesses, and those from other places who wish to honor Master Sergeant Trent. But it will largely be a uniquely Norton tribute to one of our own. It will be a reminder to those who knew him, an inspiration to those who look to his example, and a lesson to the young children who will grow up learning his legacy in the Norton of the future.

It will be a proper expression of the phrase “thank you”.

Bill Gouveia is a local columnist and a proud lifelong resident of Norton. He can be reached at aninsidelook@aol.comand followed on Twitter at @BillInsideLook.

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