Always a strong voice and a steady hand in the community, John Mullen USMC, wore the designation, ‘veteran’, as a badge of honor, symbolized by his Thomas Fitzgerald Post service cap. An active participant is all things related to veterans over the years, from the annual Memorial Day March to Mass and Exercises, the Vietnam Memorial and Services to the launching, along with fellow veteran and activist the late Brian Mahoney, of the Veteran’s Express, Mullen, 89, passed away this week.
The ironic twist of fate is noted here, in that his death coincides with the disgraceful vandalism of the World War II Memorial located at the entrance to the Pleasure Bay walkway. News stations and media outlets around the country have descended on the South Boston neighborhood to gauge reaction and witness the collective efforts to deal with this egregious act. It is a memorial that Mr. Mullen passionately helped to bring to fruition.
The groundbreaking happened in 2002 with the City of Boston’s Edward Ingersoll Browne Trust Fund providing a $150,000 grant that was soon matched by a fundraising committee organized by Mr. Mullen and members and friends of the Fitzgerald Post 561VFW. Designed by architect Robert Shure, who has been on site assisting in the clean-up efforts, the memorial lists, in alphabetical order, each veteran’s name and the branch of service.
The symbolism of the timing of this desecration and Mr. Mullen’s death is poignant in its actuality. Family and friends have expressed their relief that he had passed before the vandalism was reported and believe that divine intervention played a role in sparing him from the anguish that would he would feel that the assault on democracy had arrived at his doorstep.