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Annual Honor Program 2014

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.

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