DRACUT — The students from Lowell Middlesex Academy Charter School stood in silence around the tall stone monument honoring Army Spc. Mathew G. Boule along Lakeview Avenue. Many studied his face.
“How many people know that picture?” LMACS Executive Director Margaret A. McDevitt asked them before explaining that Boule was a graduate of the school. “He expressly came to the charter school so that he could enlist and serve his country and that is exactly what he did… and made the ultimate sacrifice, so he is one of us. He is part of our family.”
On their way to Dunstable for a field trip, the large crowd of students stopped at the Dracut park named after Boule to pay their respects to him. Boule, a 2000 LMACS graduate, died in 2003 at the age of 22 from injuries sustained when the Black Hawk helicopter on which he was crew chief went down in Iraq. He was one of six men who died.
“Matt went to LMACS. He loved that school,” said Sue Boule, Boule’s mother. “He used to come home on leave and he’d go down there. It just meant something to him.”
It was McDevitt’s idea to bring the students for the first time to the Army Spc. Mathew G. Boule Memorial Park on Thursday. Every year, the Boules give out a scholarship named after their late son to one LMACS student who best represents the school’s ten ethical values.
“It seemed to me that, this past year, the students did not have any sense of recognition of what the scholarship was about, even though we say it,” McDevitt said, adding that September’s ethical value is respect. “So I thought we should go visit.”
Nizaah Cormier, 18, recited a poem titled “The Fallen Soldier” by Patricia Krull. “Don’t weep for me/O’Land of the free/When it was my time to fall/’Twas for my country’s call,” reads part of the poem.
Students carefully placed mums in front of the six panels in memory of the men killed.
“Most of these kids were just toddlers when all of this happened,” said Boule’s father, Leo Boule. “To them, it’s just a picture. By coming over here, you look at the faces of those kids … they were pretty moved and it’s like reality set in. There was more than a picture. This was a person, just like them.”
Sue said she’d like to see other schools visit her son’s monument.
“Veterans Park has names. They don’t have the face,” she said. “They can’t connect with it … and he was 22 when he died. He wasn’t old. He was my baby.”
Though the stop was very short, hearing part of Boule’s story was enough to move Genesis Otero to tears. As her peers walked back towards their school buses, the 16-year-old Lowell resident hugged the Boules.
“I’m feeling that they gave a blessing to this world,” Otero said. “I feel where they came from. I have people that actually served in the Army and I’m just being grateful that there are people that actually made it. I just wanted to give her a hug and him a hug to let them know that we’re really thankful. … I didn’t want to just give them a handshake.”