By Paul Tennant
---- — NORTH ANDOVER — The May 21 annual Town Meeting will pay tribute to the runners, volunteers, law enforcement officers, first responders and health care providers who were involved in the Boston Marathon tragedy last month.
“All these individuals were enjoying a pristine spring day when tragedy so severely changed the course of that fine day, both personal and civic. I hope to let them know that the North Andover community is aware and proud of their role and participation in what is now among the finest hours of our shared experience in the commonwealth’s history,” Moderator Mark DiSalvo said.
DiSalvo is inviting all North Andover residents who have been associated with the Boston Marathon itself and the health care, emergency and law enforcement response to the bombing tragedy and subsequent manhunt to be honored at the start of the Town Meeting, which will begin at 7 p.m. in the North Andover High School auditorium.
“I believe this simple sign of respect may help in continuing the healing process we are all experiencing,” said the moderator. He noted that at least two former residents were injured by the blasts. Ann and Eric Whalley, who lived in North Andover for many years, suffered serious injuries.
DiSalvo, who contacted the family, said Ann Whalley suffered severe external wounds and Eric Whalley suffered brain trauma and damage to his legs.
DiSalvo has been able, with the help of local runners such as former Selectman Tom Licciardello, and Boston Marathon race director Dave McGillivray, who lives in North Andover, to invite marathoners and volunteers. With the assistance of police Chief Paul Gallagher and fire Chief Andrew Melnikas, he has reached out to the local law enforcement and public safety personnel as well as emergency medical technicians.
These include members of federal agencies such as the FBI and ATF as well as personnel of other law enforcement agencies who happen to live in North Andover. He is less able, because of health care privacy laws, to contact and invite the physicians, nurses, support and administrative personnel in the multiple hospitals who provided emergency and follow-on care to victims.
The honorees will assemble on the stage and lead the hundreds of townspeople who attend Town Meeting in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance to officially start the Town Meeting. In addition, a rendition of “America the Beautiful” will be sung a capella.
The meeting will start at 7 p.m., DiSalvo said. Those choosing to attend and be honored are asked to gather at the foot of the stage at 6:50 p.m. DiSalvo asks that all honorees that are voters need to check in with the tellers beforehand and those residents who are not voters (but are residents) also can be honored at the start of the meeting but will have to be checked in as “non-voters” at the appropriate table.
Families of those being honored are welcome to attend and sit in the auditorium during this brief ceremony. For those with young children there will have free child care available throughout the meeting.