, Newburyport, MA

November 12, 2013

Kezer pays tribute to veterans, Amesbury's citizens

By Mac Cerullo
Staff Writer

---- — AMESBURY — Uncertain of his election fate, Mayor Thatcher Kezer gave some candid remarks during yesterday’s annual Veterans Day ceremony, addressing last week’s close election while saluting the citizens of Amesbury for allowing him the chance to serve as mayor.

Kezer’s speech came about halfway through the 40-minute ceremony, which took place at the Doughboy Memorial and immediately followed the city’s annual Veterans Day parade. Besides acknowledging his own precarious position, Kezer also thanked the veterans for their service and the residents in attendance for honoring those veterans with their presence.

Addressing last week’s election, in which he fell short of re-election by two votes, Kezer said he holds no angst, bitterness or regret, and ultimately only wants to serve the public, whether it’s in Amesbury as mayor or in some other capacity elsewhere.

He added that the situation reminded him of the official transfer of power ceremony that occurs in the military, in which an outgoing officer stands before his troops to relinquish command, and then thanks them for their service and loyalty. He said the civilian equivalent to this ceremony is an inauguration, but until the mayoral recount is conducted, it’s impossible to say who will take the reins of the city in January.

“It is with this thought in mind, not knowing if I will have the privilege again, that I render my salute to you, the good people of Amesbury,” Kezer said, “who come here to honor our veterans, and to thank you for the honor of having been your leader for the past eight years.”

There were about 200 people on hand for the ceremony, which was led by Arthur Lawler, commander of American Legion Post 187, and also included prayers by Pastor John Howard from the Rock Church, the Rev. Louis Palmieri from Holy Family Parish, and musical performances by the Amesbury High School marching band.

Lawler served as both master of ceremonies and the keynote speaker, and in his remarks, he spoke about his family’s military experience and the importance of serving your country while also addressing the recent Boston Marathon bombings and its impact on his family.

Lawler’s daughter, Remy, was with her friends near the finish line when the bombs went off. Remy was hit by shrapnel and was hospitalized for five days. Her friends also suffered serious injuries, and one lost both of his legs.

“While her physical injuries have healed, the trauma she and many survivors experienced remains,” Lawler said. “It has not been easy for survivors, many of whom suffer from PTSD. They react to smells, fireworks and it’s been hard for many of them to move on, and many of our veterans who have been in conflict have experienced the same symptoms.”

At the conclusion of the ceremony, there was a roll call of all local veterans who have passed away over the past year. That was followed by a laying of wreaths at the base of the Doughboy, a moment of silence and a series of rifle shots into the air by a firing squad.