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617-523-0402 | PO Box 8382, Boston, Massachusetts 02114

September 20, 2018


September 20, 2018

Annual Honor Program

Each year the Board of Directors and volunteers organize an event to dedicate the new names of homicide victims being added to the Garden.  The Honor Program is usually held on the third Thursday in September.  Contact us to learn more on how you can add your loved one to the Garden or if you want to be involved with the Garden of Peace.

The application process for 2018 engravings are now being accepted and will close on August 1, 2018, in order for the engravings to be completed prior to the program.  Applications received after August 1st will be held over to the following year.


2017 Honor Program

On September 14, 2017, again, hundreds gathered at the Garden to honor the memory of the 38 new loved ones added to the Garden and the many others who we have lost to homicide.   During this year’s program, we were fortunate to have House Speaker Robert DeLeo MC our event.   We also heard from Liam Lowney, Executive Director of Massachusetts Office of Victim Assistance and survivor speaker Deborah JacQuie Cairo-Williams, mother of Charisse Monique Carter.  The resounding theme that was eloquently spoken by each was the search for solace, the human capacity to heal and to learn how to live a new normal and the strength needed to shape your loved ones’ legacies.

This year, we also had exciting news to share about the future and long-term sustainability of the Garden.  As you know, the Garden was built and is maintained by the work of a dedicated group of volunteers with the indispensable help of our faithful donors.  The Garden board and founders have, over the past year, had serious discussions about our ability to sustain this work over the long-term, as we are an all-volunteer organization with no staff.  In order to ensure that the Garden continues to grow and meet the needs of our family of survivors, we concluded that we needed to find a home for it that provides that long-term sustainability.  We initiated discussions with the Massachusetts Office for Victim Assistance (MOVA) and found that their mission and that of the Garden are a perfect match.  MOVA is an independent state agency governed by a board chaired by the Massachusetts Attorney General and whose members include two District Attorneys and two public (victim) members.

As a result of these discussions, a bill (H2306) was filed in the legislature that would:

  • Transfer administration of the Garden of Peace to MOVA
  • Create an advisory committee to ensure that the mission of the Garden is carried out
  • Create a trust fund seeded with the existing reserves of the Garden and restricted to the maintenance and growth of the Garden.

These three elements of the legislation give us the comfort of knowing that the Garden will live on past our lifetimes; that survivors will continue to have a voice in the administration of the Garden; and that those of you have made this all possible with your financial support can continue to make contributions in the name of your loved ones.

As these discussions continue and the bill continues to make its way through the legislative process, we ask you to please

contact your state legislators to ask them to communicate their support for H2306 to the Chairs of the Joint Committee on the Judiciary – Senator William Brownsberger and Representative Claire Cronin.   The bill has been heard by the Committee and awaits a favorable report to move on through the process.    To locate your legislators:


As always, we were warmed by all of those that attended the event and we continue to be inspired by all of you each day.  Thank you for your continued support of the Garden and your dedication to its long-term sustainability.


2016 Honor Program

On September 15, 2016, at the annual Honor Program, hundreds of friends and family members gathered for a somber remembrance as 39 names were added to the Garden of Peace, A Memorial to Homicide Victims in Massachusetts.

"Behind every name in the Garden is a loved one, who has been taken from us too soon due to senseless violence," said Katia Santiago-Taylor, Board Chair.  "It is important that we honor the lives they lived - instead of only remembering their tragic deaths. By uniting as community and sharing our loved ones with each other, we ask the world to remember their legacy as we work together toward creating peace."

The keynote address was given by Ed Davis, former Boston Police Commissioner and Lowell Police Superintendent.  Attorney General Maura Healey served as Master of Ceremonies, and Courtney Grey Mark, a Trainer of Trainers of Psychological First Aid with specialty in addressing disaster behavioral health in underserved communities, spoke to the impact of violence on families, friends, first responders and entire communities.

Among the readers of the 39 names, two members of the K9 First Responders were in attendance.  Brad Cole, Executive Director with his dog/partner Spartacus and Rebecca Coburn, CPP, CPHA, Boston Area Coordinator with her dog/partner Bernie.  Cole established the K9 First Responders after he and Spartacus responded to the Sandy Hook Shootings, and thereafter Brad formed the K-9 First Responders.  Taishano Lewis, a Boston EMT and daughter of a police officer, was also one of the readers.  She was inspired to become a first responder after an EMT saved her brother who was shot in a drive by.


2015 Honor Program

On Thursday evening, September 17, 2015, twenty-four new names of homicide victims were added to Boston’s Garden of Peace Memorial. 

The Garden of Peace is a unique memorial located in the heart of Boston. It was dedicated in 2004 as a permanent and living testament to the need for eliminating violence.

There are now approximately 900 names listed in the Garden of Peace. 

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey served as Master of Ceremonies.

Keynote speaker was Nancy Carlsson-Paige, Ed.D, Professor Emerita at Lesley University. Nancy is the author of five books and numerous op-ed on media and technology, conflict resolution, peaceable classrooms, and education reform.

Wil Darcangelo and the Tribe performed the original song, “Rough Stones Smooth,” which was composed in 2013 in honor of the Garden of Peace.

The program featured two survivor speakers, Mary Dunne, mother of Lauren Dunne Astley, and Yoko Kato, board member and mother of Sherry Morton and grandmother of Cedric Morton.

The Garden of Peace Honor Program is an emotional release for many attending families. Often, they gather in the Garden’s dry riverbed before the ceremony and remember their loved ones with flowers, candles, and pictures.

The Honor Program concludes each year with the reading of the names of each of the homicide victims who are being added to the Garden, followed by a Potluck Supper Reception.


2014 Honor Program

 “A simple stone represented and acknowledged a life was lost, a life that had meaning to family, friends, and countless others.”
--Annie Cox, mother of Dana Cox.

On September 18, 2014, as the fading light of a bright busy Thursday gave way to the soft advance of evening, hundreds gathered in Boston’s Garden of Peace to honor the memory of forty one people lost to homicide.

This year’s event marked the Garden’s 10th Honor Program since the Memorial to Homicide Victims was first established. There are now more than 900 names engraved on stones in the Garden’s dry riverbed, and along the walls surrounding it.

Boston Police Officer Annie Cox lost her son to homicide in 1990. In 2004, the name of  Dana Cox was among first etched onto a Garden of Peace stone. “I felt special and supported, like someone understood,” Annie Cox remembered at this year’s Honors Program.

Annie Cox is now a Garden of Peace Board Member and at this year’s Honors Program she acknowledged the pain of other survivors, urging them to not give into grief.

“There is a clearing in the forest, “ said Annie Cox. “And it is breathtaking.”

Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, a long time friend of the Garden,  emceed this year’s Honors Program. As a prosecutor and Middlesex County District Attorney, Martha Coakley spent much of her career standing up for homicide victims and their families.

“It would be nice not to have to add new stones to this wonderful Garden,” Coakley said.
“I have come to learn that the Garden is not just a place, it’s an idea. It’s an idea about what we can do in our pain, and in our grief, to find some resilience, and find some strength.”

This year’s Keynote Speaker was Will Morales, the Executive Director of the Boston YMCA Achievers and the Egleston Square Youth Center. Will’s work places him in direct contact with young people who live with violence all around them. But it is Will’s life story that gives Will the authority to teach our youth to reject violence.

At this year’s Garden of Peace Honors Program, Will Morales recalled how violence was ever present as he grew up in Brooklyn, New York. Morales remembered how he was just eight years old when his uncle was shot to death. And he recalled domestic violence between his mother and father.

When he was 10 years old, Will Morales and his family moved to Boston for a chance at a better life, but he soon found himself on the wrong end of the law. In 1990, Will Morales said he was sitting in a jail cell when he learned that his own brother was killed in a shoot out with Boston Police.

“Violence felt too normal to me,” Morales said. “And it shouldn’t.”

Today, Will Morales is a changed man. He is urging today’s young people to reject violence. Will’s mission with the Boston YMCA Achievers and the Egleston Square Youth Teen Center mirrors the mission of the Garden of Peace.

“I didn’t come here to tell you how to grieve, or how to cope, each of you is doing that in your own way,” Morales said. “What I come here to tell you is: you are not alone. You are in a community that is here to support you and be with you. But most importantly, this is your healing community.”

When darkness finally fell, and the lyrics of Wil Darcangelo’s specially written song, “Rough Stones Smooth” filled the air, the flicker of dozens of tea lights illuminated the Garden. Tears flowed. Survivors clung to each other.

And the Garden of Peace quietly spoke it solemn message. Violence is not the answer.



Read the speeches, watch videos and see the pictures from prior years:


If you would like to get involved in planning or volunteering at the Honor Program, please contact us at

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