Honor Program 2010
On Thursday, September 17, 2010, at the annual Garden of Peace Honor Program, the flickering beacon of hundreds of tealight candles once again broke through the darkness of sadness, pain, and unbearable grief, as 36 new stones bearing the names of Homicide Victims were added to the Garden's Dry Riverbed.
The somber and moving ceremony, held despite skies that threatened rain, provided solace to each of the 36 families forever scarred by homicide. And it reminded us all that violence can strike any of us, at any time, anywhere.
Attorney General Martha Coakley served as Master of Ceremonies. Before the reading of the names, two survivors shared the story of their loved ones lives and the keynote speaker rallied everyone to action. Mike Verge along with his son Dylan and the Boston Catholic Choir shared their music and calls for peace.
Christine Colwell, mother of murder victim Andrew Christopher Colwell, spoke of a universal sense of loss as she remembered her son.
"Andrew was one of the kindest, most thoughtful people I knew, and I was so proud to call him my son. I will forever miss his closeness, his hugs, his sense of humor, his compassion towards others and most of all, that smile," said Colwell.
Andrew Christopher Colwell was murdered on July 7, 2008, six weeks before he was scheduled to begin studies at the University of New Hampshire.
"I have learned that sometimes strength comes through weakness, and that to stand, sometimes your must first lean," said Colwell of her struggles.
Christine Colwell is not only learning to stand, she is finding tremendous strength; she is waging a fight to help other victims of violence. Colwell is supporting state legislation designed to exempt victims of violent crime from jury duty. It is her way to wring something positive out of an unspeakable personal tragedy.
She is not alone.
Alvin Notice, father of murder victim Tiana Angelique Notice, described how his daughter worked with police and the courts to protect herself from a jealous boyfriend's rage. And he told of how, just a week before Tiana's murder, he himself tried to help as the violence escalated.
"On February 7, 2009, I received a call from Tiana stating that the four tires to her car were slashed. I went to her apartment and I set up a camera system. That system later caught some of Tiana's murder on tape," Notice recalled.
Tiana Angelique Notice was murdered one week later, on February 14, 2009. Tiana was just one semester shy of completing her Master's Degree at the University of Hartford.
Alvin Notice is keeping his daughter's memory alive, establishing the Tiana Angelique Notice Foundation, a victim's rights organization, designed to break the cycle of domestic violence and to push for reforms to prevent domestic violence homicides. The Foundation's motto: "Break the Silence, Stop Domestic Violence."
Teresa Harvey-Jackson, principal of Dorchester's John Marshall School delivered the evening's keynote address. Her school is located in the heart of a neighborhood where gang warfare and street violence rage just outside school grounds.
"I know that some of the victims were involved in bad things. Some might say, you reap what you sow. For my staff and me, whether they are the victims or the perpetrators, it has the same result. We grieve the child we remember, the lost potential. We knew them when they were full of hopes and dreams. And yet, these will never be realized. We wonder what could have been done to change the outcome," said Harvey-Jackson.
As the speaking portion of the Honor Program ended, families huddled together along the Garden's winding path. Candles threw slices of light onto the stones, and onto photos and floral bouquets gently rocking in the September night breeze.
Some people silently wept, some prayed, some spoke to the familiar faces they can no longer see. And some joined Teresa Harvey-Jackson wondering how the past could have been changed, and of the work ahead, the work to change tomorrow.
Click here for a photo gallery of the 2010 Honor Program.
(Photos compliments of Randy Frye)
Special thanks to all of the individuals, organizations, and businesses that helped make this evening possible including:
- Archdiocese of Boston Black Catholic Choir
- Betsy Gold Design
- Boston Salads
- CB Richard Ellis/ New England
- Charles River Movers
- Randy Frye Photography
- Massachusetts Office of Victim Assistance
- Metro Catering
- Kevin Nolan
- Office of Attorney General Martha Coakley
- Office of District Attorney Gerard T. Leone, Jr.
- Peterson Party Center, Inc.
- Smart Source
- Standard Modern
- Suffolk University
- Tiana Angelique Notice Memorial Foundation
- Mike Verge
- All who contributed to the Potluck Community Supper
Honor Program Committee
- Leah Green, Co-Chair
- Diane MacDonald, Co-Chair
- Betty Borghesani
- Erin Gaffney
- Liam Lowney
- Amy Maki
- Jane Maki
- Evelyn Tobin
- Toni Troop
- Liz Shaw
- Bob Ward
- Corey Welford