BOSTON -- During a ceremony at the State House May 22, Governor Charlie Baker and Air Force Maj. Gen. Gary Keefe, adjutant general, Massachusetts National Guard, awarded 14 Medals of Liberty to the families of fallen Massachusetts service members.
Established by an act of the Massachusetts General Court, the medal is "awarded to the next of kin of service men and women from the Commonwealth killed in action or who died in service while in a designated combat area in the line of duty or who died as a result of wounds received in action."
"Today we remember the Massachusetts Medal of Liberty and a timeless and tireless symbol of the service and sacrifice of Massachusetts citizens that answer our nation’s call to duty," said Keefe. "More importantly it's a public statement to the families of the fallen that they are not alone, and will never be alone."
The governor echoed Keefe's sentiments.
"When somebody serves, their whole family serves alongside them," said Baker. "For the folks who lose someone, the most important thing they need to know is that we will honor, treasure and cherish that person's service."
Three of the medals awarded were in honor of service members killed in the line of duty during the recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. The remainder were in recognition of service members' sacrifice during conflicts of less recent memory.
Mark Conry was on hand to represent his brother, Dennis Conry a Marine killed in action during the Vietnam War.
"It's bittersweet," said Conry, choking back tears at the memory of his brother. "The pain never goes away, but we're proud of him, that's why we're here today."