Boston Bruins’ famous National Anthem singer, Rene Rancourt, has spent 41 years singing before Bruins contests, and last Thursday, Jan. 11, he spent an afternoon at the Chelsea Soldiers’ Home singing and entertaining residents and staff. The time was put together by the Chelsea District Court staff.
An alleged member of MS-13 pleaded guilty Jan. 11 in federal court in Boston to an immigration charge.
Elenilson Gonzalez-Gonzalez, a/k/a “Siniestro,” 31, a Salvadoran national, pleaded guilty to one count of unlawful reentry of a deported alien. U.S. District Court Judge F. Dennis Saylor IV scheduled sentencing for April 5, 2018.
Following a lengthy investigation, Gonzalez-Gonzalez was one of 61 defendants named in a superseding indictment targeting the activities of alleged leaders, members, and associates of the transnational criminal organization, La Mara Salvatrucha or MS-13.
Gonzalez-Gonzalez is the 27th defendant to plead guilty in this case.
In December 2015, during the course of the investigation, law enforcement encountered Gonzalez-Gonzalez near Deer Island National Park in Winthrop. Further investigation revealed that in May 2012, Gonzalez-Gonzalez had been apprehended by U.S. Customers and Border Patrol agents illegally entering the United States near Mission, Texas.
At that time, Gonzalez-Gonzalez admitted that he was a Salvadoran national who had entered the country illegally and was attempting to make his way to the Boston area. He was subsequently removed from the United States in 2012 on an expedited basis. Gonzalez-Gonzalez later re-entered the United States and was charged with illegal reentry after deportation.
The charging statute provides for a sentence of no greater than two years in prison, one year of supervised release, and up to a fine of $250,000. Gonzalez-Gonzalez will also be subject to deportation upon the completion of his federal sentence. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based on the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
By AMAC Certified Social Security Advisor Russell Gloor
Association of Mature American Citizens
Dear Rusty: I will be turning 62 in 2018; birth date 9/24/1955. My husband is 77 and receiving Social Security. Longevity runs in my family. I have been self-employed all my life. I am still working and my husband collects a pension, Social Security and RMD from a traditional IRA, so there is no need for additional monies under my current circumstances. When should I start taking Social Security? Signed: Thinking about Retirement
Dear Thinking: The question of when to take Social Security normally gets an answer of “It depends on your health, your family history of longevity, and your need for the money”. You’ve already addressed those items so I’ll focus on your main question – when should you start taking Social Security?
Even though you’ll be eligible to collect Social Security when you turn 62, if you do so you will only get 74.17% of the retirement benefit you would be entitled to at your full retirement age (FRA). Whenever you apply, you will be deemed to be filing not only for your own retirement benefit but also any spousal benefit you may be entitled to from your husband’s work record. Similar to your SS retirement benefit, your spousal benefit would also be reduced because you took it early; instead of being 50% of your husband’s benefit at your FRA, you would only get 35% at age 62 (if that is larger than your own retirement benefit). The point I’m making is that by claiming SS early, any benefit you’re entitled to will be reduced from what you would get at your full retirement age.
Just as you are penalized for claiming before your full retirement age, you are rewarded for waiting beyond it to claim Social Security retirement benefits. In fact, for each year you wait beyond your full retirement age, your retirement benefit will be 8% higher than it would be at your FRA. That will continue up until you are 70 years old when your retirement benefit will be 30.67% higher than it would have been at your FRA. You stop earning additional credit at age 70, so there’s no reason to wait beyond that to apply. Let’s use an easy example to illustrate: If your FRA retirement benefit is $1000, by applying at age 62 you would only get $741 per month instead of $1000. But if you wait until you are 70 to claim benefits, you would get $1306 per month, nearly twice what you would get by applying at age 62.
There are two other factors you should incorporate into your thinking:
1) At your FRA, you will be entitled to ½ of your husband’s benefit at his FRA. If your spousal benefit at your FRA is substantially more than your own retirement benefit, then applying at your FRA may be a good strategy, as opposed to waiting and earning delayed retirement credits.
2) Once you have reached your FRA you will be entitled to 100% of your husband’s benefit amount if he should predecease you. If your eventual survivor’s benefit would be more than your own FRA benefit amount, you might be better served by claiming your retirement benefit earlier than age 70.
As you can see, most of the answer to your question depends upon whether your benefits as a spouse or a survivor will be more than your benefit based upon your own work record. If not, then waiting beyond your FRA up to age 70 will yield you the maximum retirement benefit. But if your spouse and/or survivor’s benefit will be more than your own retirement benefits, then applying at your full retirement age may be the best strategy. If you haven’t already done so, I suggest you go to www.ssa.gov and set up your personal “My Social Security” account which will give you access to your currently estimated retirement benefit. Comparing that to your potential spousal and survivor benefits should give you the answer you’re seeking.
The information presented in this article is intended for general information purposes only. The opinions and interpretations expressed are the viewpoints of the AMAC Foundation’s Social Security Advisory staff, trained and accredited under the National Social Security Advisors program of the National Social Security Association, LLC (NSSA). NSSA, the AMAC Foundation, and the Foundation’s Social Security Advisors are not affiliated with or endorsed by the United States Government, the Social Security Administration, or any other state government. Furthermore, the AMAC Foundation and its staff do not provide legal or accounting services. The Foundation welcomes questions from readers regarding Social Security issues. To submit a request, contact the Foundation at email@example.com.
This is the season to Shop Small®! On main streets across America, small businesses are getting ready to welcome customers on Small Business Saturday, celebrated this year on November 25 across the country and on Broadway Chelsea.
Results from the 2017 Small Business Saturday Consumer Insights Survey, released this month by the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) and American Express, show six in 10 (61%) U.S. consumers are aware of Small Business Saturday going into the day, and of those, 82% plan to shop at a small, independently-owned retailer or dine at a small, independently-owned restaurant on the day.
Created by American Express in 2010 as a way to help small businesses get more customers, Small Business Saturday is held annually on the Saturday following Thanksgiving. Now entering its eighth year, the day is embraced by independent merchants of all kinds—from traditional brick and mortar retailers to service providers to e-commerce businesses. And as consumer shopping habits continue to evolve, they are prioritizing small businesses – even those online: the report found that 59% of consumers said they are likely to seek out a small, independently-owned retailer when shopping online on Small Business Saturday.
“Small Business Saturday provides people an opportunity to discover and celebrate the variety of small businesses that make their communities thrive,” said Elizabeth Rutledge, Executive Vice President, Global Advertising & Brand Management at American Express. “Beyond visiting their favorite go-to spots, shoppers say Small Business Saturday inspires them to visit places they have not been to before and would not have otherwise tried.”
Consumers Will Make Small Businesses a Big Part of Holiday Shopping Plans
Among those who are aware and who plan to shop on Small Business Saturday this year, 65% say the main reason they will support local, independently-owned retailers and restaurants is because they value the contributions small businesses make to their community.
The 2017 Small Business Saturday Consumer Insights Survey found:
As much as 80% of all consumers surveyed say at least some of their holiday shopping will be done at small, independently-owned retailers or restaurants;
Three-quarters (75%) of all consumers surveyed are planning on going to one or more small businesses as part of their holiday shopping;
90% of all consumers surveyed agree it is important for them to support small, independently-owned restaurants and bars;
Of consumers who are aware of Small Business Saturday, 89% agree that the day encourages them to Shop Small all year long, not just during the holiday season;
For those who are aware and who plan to shop on Small Business Saturday, 44% plan to spend more this year compared to last year.
“Supporting small businesses is critical to the health and livelihood of our national economy and local communities,” said NFIB CEO and President Juanita Duggan. “We are proud to partner with American Express to bring attention to the importance of small business and look forward to another successful Small Business Saturday.”
Grassroots Support Boosted by Neighborhood Champions and the Small Business Saturday Coalition
Local support for Small Business Saturday is largely driven by Neighborhood Champions: small businesses, business associations, local Chambers of Commerce and other community organizers who help energize their neighborhoods on the day. To date, more than 7,200 Neighborhood Champions have signed up to plan activities and events to draw shoppers to small businesses across the U.S., leading up to and on Small Business Saturday. Click here to find Neighborhood Champions near you. Small business owners can also find event inspiration and create customizable Small Business Saturday marketing materials to rally their communities at ShopSmall.com.
Another important group that drives participation on the day is the Small Business Saturday Coalition. Led by Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP), the Small Business Saturday Coalition was created in 2011 to help amplify the Shop Small message. The Coalition is comprised of national, state and local associations that help coordinate Small Business Saturday activities with merchants, consumers, small business owners and public officials in every state across the country.
Show Love for Your Favorite Places on Social Media
Consumers have made it a tradition each year to share their love for Small Business Saturday on social media, and all are encouraged to show off their favorite independently-owned businesses by using #ShopSmall and #SmallBizSat on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. This year, American Express is also encouraging consumers to RSVP on Facebook here for reminders about the nationwide celebration to Shop Small this November 25th.
To discover and share the impact shopping small has in your state, visit: www.shopsmall.com/mystate.
Corporate Supporters Rally Communities to Support Small Business
To help drive excitement for Small Business Saturday, American Express has enlisted the support of many companies that are serving as Corporate Supporters. Together these companies reach millions of small businesses and consumers and are key players in the e-commerce, retail, telecom, media, hospitality, transportation, and professional services industries. FedEx is among the medium and large-sized companies that will be participating. The company is shipping Shop Small merchandise kits to Neighborhood Champions and small businesses across the country free of charge, and printing select materials in the kit at no cost through FedEx Office. Grubhub is helping restaurants stand out, deliver memorable experiences and optimize online offerings on Small Business Saturday. Additionally, Ace Hardware, FTD, Square and Liberty Mutual Insurance are lending their support to the day.
Accepting the Culture of Health prize at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation headquarters in Princeton, NJ, are Jose Iraheta, Leslie Aldrich, City Manager Tom Ambrosino, Sylvia Ramirez, Dan Cortez and Roseann Bongiovanni.
A delegation of Chelsea stakeholders and residents traveled to Princeton, New Jersey on Oct. 11 to accept the City’s Robert Wood Johnson Culture of Health prize.
The national celebration took place at the headquarters of the Foundation, and a six-person delegation from Chelsea appeared.
Chelsea was announced as the winner of the prize last month locally, and accepted the prize officially last week. A community celebration in honor of the award tentatively has been scheduled for Nov. 16.
The Prize honors communities that understand health is a shared value and everyone has a role to play to help people be healthier. Chosen from more than 200 communities across the country, Chelsea’s selection stems from its success in pursuing innovative strategies, leveraging their unique strengths, and bringing partners together to ensure good health flourishes for everyone. Chelsea is one of eight communities awarded the Prize in 2017. There are 35 trailblazing communities throughout the nation that have been honored with this distinguished award throughout the past five years – including four others from Massachusetts. Past winners include: Cambridge (2013), Fall River (2013), Everett (2015), Lawrence (2015).
Residential is king in today’s development world, with developers vying for land to build luxury apartments where previously no one would have even parked their car.
That means, however, that industrial areas are shrinking or disappearing in the Greater Boston area, and places like Chelsea’s industrial area on Eastern Avenue and Marginal Streets are commanding high prices and great interest from developers intent on grabbing committed industrial property before it disappers.
That couldn’t be more true in Chelsea, where industrial/commercial properties are commanding a premium after several recent notable sales, and major developers from the region are scooping them up before it’s too late.
On Eastern Avenue, National Development – a well-known development company with major holdings in Boston, including the trendy new residential Ink Block development – has purchased 130 Eastern Ave. for $10 million in August from the Cohen Family, according to property records.
Pending a zoning variance, they plan to demolish the entire existing 38,000 sq. ft. warehouse on the seven-acre site.
Ted Tye of National Development said they hope to start construction on the new 32-foot clear height building in late 2017 upon completing final designs and receiving all the permits and approvals. They expect construction to conclude in fall 2018.
Tye said they have one tenant for the new property, but that tenant hasn’t been disclosed yet.
“There is an increasing demand in Greater Boston for quality distribution space close to Boston,” said Tye. “Chelsea is ideally located and has been great to work with on expanding the City’s commercial base.”
Part of the certainty comes from the fact, City Manager Tom Ambrosino said, that Chelsea has committed itself to keeping things industrial – unlike other areas, such as Everett’s Lower Broadway area by Wynn Boston Harbor casino where all bets against residential creeping in are off right now.
“I think we have made a commitment to see industrial areas that are now industrial to remain industrial and that these areas are relatively important to the City,” he said. “We have plenty of areas for residential expansion, including the Forbes site. I think we’re committed to retaining a vibrant industrial district. Chelsea historically has done a great job. We’re not likely to create residential developments in our industrial areas.”
Ambrosino said one thing the City requires is that in the development of these new properties, that they are improved aesthetically a bit. For example, National Development will landscape its property upon completion, and the new LTI Limo Company – which moved from Everett’s Lower Broadway area to Chelsea’s Eastern Avenue this year after being bought out by Wynn – is also going to landscape its property significantly.
“There aren’t a lot of industrial areas in Greater Boston and so this industrial area has become quite desirable,” said Ambrosino.
Meanwhile, just last week, more significant action took place in the district with the sale of two prominent warehouse to the Seyon Group, a Boston commercial development firm with 30 years of experience.
E-mails to Seyon Group were not answered in time for this story, but property records – first reported by Bldup.com – showed that Seyon purchased two warehouses for more $10 million total last week.
They purchased 201 Crescent Ave. from New England Lighting Company, which is closing down, for $3.75 million. New England Lighting bought the warehouse in 2009 for $2.65 million. The building is empty and for lease.
Meanwhile, at the same time, Seyon Group bought 150 Eastern Ave. from O’Brien Realty for $7.475 million. O’Brien also owns 140 Eastern Ave., and it purchased 150 Eastern Ave. in 2015 for just $4 million – nearly doubling their money in two years time.
On Oct. 4 at 8;12 a.m., a male subject was placed into custody after he was observed entering and checking motor vehicle door handles by police in the MGH Clinic parking lot, located at 151 Everett Ave. No stolen property located on his person.
Egno Silva, 26, of Beverly, was charged with Breaking and Entering in the day for a felony.
THAT’S MY SPOT!
On Oct. 6 at 6:43 p.m., officers responded to 827 Broadway on a past assault involving neighbors. Officers were advised that one of the involved may be in possession of a knife. Officers determined it was an argument over a parking space with one of the participants claiming she was threatened with a knife.
Officers placed the subject under arrested for the assault.
Luz Rodriguez, 55, of 835 Broadway, was charged with assault with a dangerous weapon and assault and battery.
NO ALARM CAN WAKE HIM UP
On Oct. 7 at 2 a.m., officers responded to the area of Greg’s Service Center located at 51 Park St. on the report of a car alarm going off and not stopping.
Officers observed a male party who was passed out in a truck on the property. The subject was placed under arrest after stating he entered the truck to sleep for the night.
James Sullivan, 23, of 101 Park St., was charged with breaking and entering in the night for a felony and one warrant.
REVERE MAN SENTENCED FOR BANK ROBBERY SPREE
A Revere man was sentenced Oct. 11 in federal court in Boston for robbing 10 banks during a 19-day spree from late December 2016 to early January 2017.
He was arrested in Chelsea on Jan. 7, and confessed to robbing the banks.
Fred Mandracchia, 36, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Allison D. Burroughs to 100 months in prison, three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay restitution of $16,695 to the banks he robbed. In July 2017, Mandracchia HYPERLINK “https://www.justice.gov/usao-ma/pr/revere-man-pleads-guilty-multiple-bank-robberies” pleaded guilty to 10 counts of bank robbery
Following a Jan. 3, 2017, robbery of the Mechanics Cooperative Bank branch in Fall River, law enforcement identified Mandracchia as the individual responsible for that robbery. Based on similarities in the robberies and the physical description of the perpetrator, Mandracchia was suspected to have also been involved in nine other Boston-area bank robberies.
On Oct. 8 at 11:25 p.m., officers were dispatched to the 7-11 store at Broadway and Williams for a report of an unwanted party. The male party had been previously given a no trespass order by the store. Upon arrival officers observed the male harassing customers at the entrance. He was placed into custody at the scene.
Daniel Humphreys, 37, of 855 Broadway, was charged with resisting arrest and trespassing.
PRESCRPITION DRUG TAKE BACK DAY
City Manager Thomas Ambrosino and Police Chief Brian Kyes are again hosting the National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day on Saturday October28, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Chelsea Police Headquarters. This national program aims to provide a safe, convenient, and responsible means of disposing of prescription drugs, while also educating the general public about the potential for abuse of medications. The public is asked not to dispose of any items listed on the front of the kiosk such as needles, auto-injectors such as epi-pens or flammable objects. There is a separate container to dispose of sharps.
Additionally, the citizens of Chelsea are reminded that this public collection kiosk at Police Headquarters is available for anonymous use 365 days a year.
Hector Lopez, 38, 88 Williams St., Chelsea, was arrested on a warrant.
Okbay Bahatu, 32, 318 Chestnut St., Chelsea, was arrested on a warrant and possessing alcoholic beverage.
Egno Silva, 26, 338 Rantour St., Beverly, was arrested for breaking and entering daytime.
Dania Lopez, 21, 48 Watts St., Chelsea, was arrested for a warrant, unregistered motor vehicle, not in possession of license, registration not in possession.
Alexandria Vega, 33, 342 Blue Ledge Dr., Boston, was arrested for common nightwalker.
Nicole Skillin, 40, 2 Rice St., Saugus, was arrested for sexual conduct for fee and warrant.
Elvedina Sejdinovic, 23, 39 Crescent Ave, Chelsea, was arrested on a warrant.
Luz Rodriguez, 55, 835 Broadway, Chelsea, was arrested for assault with a dangerous weapon and assault and battery.
James Sullivan, 23, 101 Park St., Chelsea, was arrested for breaking and entering nighttime and on a warrant.
Jorge Izaguirre, 21, 72 Fremont Ave., Chelsea, was arrested for operating under the influence of liquor and possession open container of alcohol in motor vehicle.
Miguel Hernandez, 53, 104 Library St., Chelsea, was arrested for operating under the influence of liquor.
Picardy Lamour, 24, 7 Murray St., Chelsea, was arrested for operating under the influence of liquor and leaving scene of property damage.
John Londono, 28, 186 Chester Ave., Chelsea, was arrested for operating under the influence ofliquor, flashing red light violation.
Daniel Humphreys, 37, 855 Broadway, Chelsea, was arrested for trespassing and resisting arrest.
The silent protest that was begun last season by former San Francisco 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick, in which Kaepernick took a knee during the National Anthem before football games, exemplifies what freedom of speech and freedom of expression mean in our country.
Kaepernick, and his fellow players who have joined him this year, have been very clear from the outset that their sole motive behind their protest is to express their view that racism is alive and well in America at all levels of our society and that this problem needs to be addressed immediately.
Although no one can doubt the truth of that assertion, we realize there are many who believe that a football game is not the place for political protests and who are upset that the players are kneeling during the playing of the National Anthem.
That’s their opinion and they, like Kapaernick, are entitled to express what they believe.
However, those (such as President Trump) who are attempting to discredit the protesters by asserting that the protesters are disrespecting those who have served in the military are off-base for two reasons.
First and foremost, the protesters never have made any negative statement about anybody in the military or that their protest is aimed at the military. Rather, it is clear that Trump and others are making this claim solely to discredit the protesters as a means of ignoring the serious issue of racism that the protest is all about.
Second however, the playing of the National Anthem before a game never has had anything to do with honoring the military. Rather, the tradition of playing the Anthem prior to the start of a sporting event has been to show our unity as a nation — every single American — and not limited only to past and present members of the military.
The Anthem before a game makes us realize that although we may be cheering for rival teams on the playing field, at the end of the day, we still are one people, one nation.
Colin Kaepernick’s kneeling during the National Anthem — which has resulted in his career being ended (at least for now) — truly was an act of courage and stands as a shining example to all Americans, especially our young people, of their right to protest peacefully in our country.
The Chelsea High Volleyball team takes a knee during the National Anthem on Tuesday afternoon, Oct. 3, in a game at home against Notre Dame, who chose to stand and salute the flag. The girls, including (L-R) Arianna Pryor, Xiana Herasme, Masireh Ceesay and Guidairys Castro, plan to continue taking the knee all season to highlight inequities the lives of minority youth and immigrants. One school in Methuen has asked that they do not come and take a knee at their venue, choosing to forfeit the game instead.
The Chelsea High School girls’ volleyball team – a team loaded with seven seniors – has been together for several years and so it is that they’ve developed a family-like bond and a chemistry that sometimes helps them to act in unison.
It’s almost telepathic, they say.
In fact, when they first decided to take a knee during the National Anthem to make a statement on Tuesday, Sept. 19, at Whittier Tech, it was something they didn’t rehearse or plan in advance.
It just happened, and now it has happened two other times and – like other National Anthem protests – is sparking a robust conversation in Chelsea High, outside in Chelsea and even into the other cities and towns where they play.
All 11 players on the team are now taking the knee and did so as recently as this past Tuesday afternoon at Chelsea High.
“When it happened first, it wasn’t planned and it was just spontaneous and we all went down,” said Arianna Pryor, who pointed out that they took the knee before it became something much greater with the NFL protest on Sept. 24. “We gave each other the look and then it happened. It was just a natural thing. We had talked about it, but never planned on doing it. It was almost like mental telepathy.”
Leaders of the team say they are all taking the knee for several different reasons – whether it be for immigration issues, discrimination, economic opportunity, or better resources – but in general they seem to want to draw attention to the fact that they don’t see the country as being “free” or all of created “equal.”
“For me, a majority of us have immigrant parents and they came to the country to provide a better future for us,” said Rym El Mahid, a first-year player. “. What kind of American Dream is there if things are working against our parents all the time?”
Ruchellie Jimenez said she also takes the knee because she has seen how others are treated, how people treat her. She wants that to change, and this was one way to draw attention to her cause.
“I don’t think it’s fair how we have systematic forces against us and are always in the backseat of America,” she said. “We struggle and get the scraps of everyone else. My parents were immigrants and I see the way they are treated and the way I am treated. That’s why I take the knee. It isn’t fair.”
She added, as an example, that she recently wanted to improve her SAT score and went to a counselor outside Chelsea for help.
“I was sitting with the counselor and they looked at my score and said I was a minority and from a low-income area, so I was all set; there was not need for me to try to get better,” she said. “That’s not how I want to be treated. I just want to do better on my SAT.”
Pryor said others have been taking a knee to make a difference, and she saw that and brought it up to the rest of her team. They had talked about it, but made no plans. As time went on, she said she wanted to be one to make things known, to let people know that things are not right.
“I take a knee because I want to be there with the others that are trying to make a difference,” she said. “I take a knee because things need to change.”
All agreed that they don’t mean disrespect to any soldiers, and are grateful for the service of veterans – those who have died and who have returned injured. They said, however, they picked the National Anthem because it was a non-violent and because it was one of the few outlets they had as high school athletes.
“Our team is very ethnically diverse and culturally diverse,” said Capt. Jessica Martinez. “We feel strongly about how our country has been going, and we wanted to make our point in a way that wouldn’t seem violent or aggressive, but rather intelligent. We wanted to do something that showed we took a lot of time thinking out our actions.”
She added that if they had made their protest at City Hall or another public venue, it could have taken a violent course – which they didn’t want.
Added Jimenez, “We’re very grateful for what the veterans have done and they have given us freedom of speech to take the knee. I don’t think there is any other way for us to do this publicly. Everyone knows what taking a knee is.”
At school, it’s been a mixed reaction.
A lot of students don’t agree with it, they said, while others are wholeheartedly behind them.
Already, last Friday, the Chelsea High cheerleaders took a knee before the home football game.
Coach Serena Wadsworth said when it became obvious how her girls felt about taking the knee, and that they planned to do so the rest of the year, she sent out a letter to other schools. Most, she said, understood, but one school in Methuen preferred that the girls not come to their school and take a knee. The school indicated it didn’t feel it respected its school values. They were willing to forfeit the game, and also were willing to play at Chelsea.
Interestingly, the girls said their message isn’t really for those in Chelsea as much as it is for the other schools they play, many of which aren’t as diverse or understand the life that they lead.
“Our message isn’t really to be taken to only those who are doing the discrimination,” said El Mahid. “People who aren’t minority – the white and well off – don’t know the discrimination we face. It’s a way to get the discrimination out there.”
When the 2017 Chelsea High volleyball team is remembered, all of them agreed that it will probably be for their stand. They hope that it helps people think about what they did, and perhaps is something that’s continued.
“There are other teams and other seasons,” said Masireh Ceesay. “They will see what we did and see it as an example, I hope, and carry it on and find ways to go forward with our statement.”
Just as there have been no shortage of supporters of the Chelsea High girls volleyball team taking a knee at the National Anthem this month, there is similarly no shortage of people who are bothered by the statement.
Veterans are particularly bothered by the choice of high schoolers using the National Anthem to protest injustice, as it is historically a time to remember American soldiers who are deployed, dead or disabled. In a City where the primary state veterans care facility – the Soldiers’ Home – is located, that rings even more true than the average locale.
Members of the Soldiers’ Home said they could not comment on the matter, but many who spend considerable time there were hurt by the choice.
Bruce Dobson, who is the vice president of the East region of the Vietnam Veterans of America Massachusetts State Council, said he would like to meet with the girls. He said they are simply being followers, and not leading for the change they want.
Instead, they are hurting people who have lost life and limb to protect them.
“Protesting is acceptable in our country,” Dobson, who lives in Winthrop, said. “But to take a knee during the National Anthem is not. The National Anthem is to show respect to the Veterans who gave you the opportunity to be able to protest. If the volleyball team wants to protest, go to the steps of City Hall and take a knee. That will get a reaction without being disrespectful to veterans. The volleyball team members are being followers; be leaders and do something in your community. I would be willing to engage the volleyball at any time.”
School Committeeman Richard Maronski said he doesn’t agree with their stance and doesn’t believe the schools should allow it. For him, not only is it disrespectful, but shows that the youth aren’t being guided correctly.
“One problem is the kid seem to be leading the way in what should be allowed; we have the tail wagging the dog,” he said. “We are in a soft school system. The standards are lessened. The sports program seems to be getting worse. On the issue, I don’t think it’s right and I don’t think they know exactly what they are doing…I don’t think it’s right they get to take a knee wearing a Chelsea uniform. They can protest on their own time…I support the kids on what’s happening to them and what’s said to them, but I don’t support how they are going about it.”
Maronski said he attends St. Michael’s Church next to the Soldiers’ Home every Sunday, and Father Healey reads a list of the soldiers who have passed every week. He said he would like the volleyball team to attend that sad ceremony, and to also become acquainted with the many wounded soldiers living in the Home – soldiers who hold the Anthem as dear to them as their own lives.
Chelsea Veterans Agent Francisco Toro said he had no official position, but as the City’s chief advocate and service provider, he’s already heard a lot of opinions. Interestingly, not all are against – yet not all are for either.
“I provide services to the veterans and am an advocate and a voice for the veterans in this community,” he said. “There are some veterans who think that taking a knee is disrespectful and some that don’t think it is. If you were to go and speak to a group of 100 veterans in Chelsea, I would say that there would be no one group on one particular side or the other…I’ve heard both sides from the veterans on this.”