NORTH ANDOVER — This year’s Memorial Day exercises will be especially poignant for North Andover residents because they are dedicated to Cpl. Sean Gallagher, who was one of 220 Marines killed when a terrorist drove a truck loaded with explosives into their barracks at Beirut International Airport on Oct. 23, 1983.
Twenty-one other members of the U.S. Armed Forces as well as 58 French Army paratroopers were also killed in the attack. The troops were stationed in Beirut as part of an effort aimed at ending the civil war in Lebanon.
Gallagher’s mother, Barbara Gallagher, will be the guest of honor at Monday’s observance. The parade will step off at 10:15 a.m. at the Old Center Common and march along Massachusetts Avenue and Salem Street to Ridgewood Cemetery, where a ceremony honoring Gallagher and others who gave their lives in the service of the United States will take place
Col. Kenneth Lawson of the U.S. Army Chaplain Corps will be the guest speaker. Lawson, formerly of North Andover, was a minister at the Bible Chapel of the North Shore in Beverly before being called to active duty in 2001.
Lawson received the Soldier’s Medal for diffusing a dangerous situation at Fort Devens that could have resulted in the death of a soldier and his wife several years ago. Lawson knew Gallagher when he was growing up in North Andover, according to members of the Patriotic Observance Committee.
The committee, chaired by Ted Tripp, met at Town Hall on Monday night to put the finishing touches on the Memorial Day program.
Also speaking at the ceremony will be Michael Manougian, a 2009 North Andover High School graduate who will soon graduate from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and be commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Army.
Ross McQuate, a North Andover High School junior who recently earned the rank of Eagle Scout, will read a poem or essay with a patriotic theme. McQuate, whose father, Craig McQuate, served in the Marines, said he thinks it’s important for young people to “get involved” and honor those who gave or risked their lives for America.