AYER — Mother’s Day was on May 9. But last Saturday, brother and sister Ayer High graduates now living in Washington returned home for a Memorial Day tribute to honor their late mother and 88 Ayer veterans.
In January, Michael Cardarelli was appointed as Acting Deputy Under Secretary for Benefits to the Department of Veterans Affairs. A West Point graduate with master’s degrees from Harvard and Stanford, Cardarelli has held down a remarkable government career and held command and staff posts the 82nd and 101st Airborne and 25th Infantry divisions.
Col. Rosaline Cardarelli retired from the Army in 2008 as the executive officer to the Army Inspector General. Previously she served as the 12th commander of the Walter Reed Army Medical Center Training Brigade, responsible for 3,800 personnel including some 800 Operation Iraqi and Enduring Freedom wounded soldiers. Her career was likewise extensive and decorated for battalion command post service. She holds dual master’s degrees and a doctorate in philosophy in health-care policy.
Their mother, Harui, who was a native a Japan, married their father Robert Cardarelli, a career non-commissioned officer in the Army. The two eventually settled in Ayer to raise their two children.
After their mother’s death in June 2007, the siblings followed through on their her wish to give something back to her adopted hometown.
Hearing of Ayer’s decade-long effort to erect a new veterans monument last fall, the Cardarellis decided the two causes fit perfectly together. They contacted the Ayer Memorial Garden Committee, which was raising funds for a monument to honor veterans who chose Ayer as their home. In their mother’s name, the two made a substantial donation that pushed the committee well over their $5,000 fundraising goal.
Now, the names of the three Cardarelli veterans are among the 88 names listed upon the town’s new monument, which was unveiled Saturday. Collectively, their records include service in World War II, Korea, the Persian Gulf and other campaigns.
In the lower lefthand corner of the bronze plaque is a notation that the tablet was dedicated by the Cardarelli siblings in loving memory of their mother.
Michael Cardarelli said their mother once advised her children to “find a good first sergeant because they get things done.” He thanked the committee, but particularly its chairman, Selectman Jim Fay, a Vietnam-era Army 1st sergeant who was twice stationed at Fort Devens. “Without his vision, perseverance, commitment, determination, and dedication, this day would not have been possible,” he said.
The five granite pillars in the Memorial Garden had traditionally listed only soldiers who, at the time of their enlistment, cited Ayer as their home. The new bronze plaque affixed to one stone features the seals of the five United State military branches. Above the list of 88 names, it reads: “Dedicated to the military veterans of Ayer who served America with pride.”
For entry to the honor roll, a veteran must have been honorably discharged from service, not otherwise recognized on another monument, and have lived in Ayer for at least a 10-year period of time. Names were accepted for the new honor roll through the winter months. Names will continue to be collected, with the next addition scheduled to be done in 2013.
“No matter when they came, our men and women have answered the call to duty,” Fay said.