Boston: Mayor Wu Unveils Mural Honoring Veteran Captain Tom Kelley

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~ On September 7, 2023, Mayor Michelle Wu joined Boston's Veterans Services Commissioner Robert Santiago, the Mayor's Office of Arts & Culture, the Community Engagement Cabinet, Massachusetts Secretary of Veterans' Services Jon Santiago, and West Roxbury community members to unveil a new mural honoring Captain Tom Kelley. The mural was created by local artist Laura DeDonato Wiatt and is located on the Boston Ale House. The Mayor also proclaimed September 7, 2023 as "Captain Thomas Kelley Day" in honor of his contributions to his country and local community.

Mayor Wu expressed her gratitude for those who made this artistic vision a reality. "Public art helps us highlight the values and achievements of our communities, telling the story of sacrifices and leadership that helped form Boston's neighborhoods and our country. Commemorating Captain Tom Kelley's decades of military service adds to the fabric of West Roxbury's character," she said.

Captain Kelley was raised in West Roxbury and served in various roles in the U.S. Navy for 30 years before retiring from service. In 1969 in Vietnam, he was leading eight river assault boats to extract American troops when one craft became disabled. He ordered the remaining seven craft to circle the disabled boat and put his own craft directly in the line of fire, when his boat was struck by a rocket propelled grenade. He suffered head injuries as a result of shrapnel but still managed to move all boats to a safer area before calling for medical assistance himself. For this act of bravery he was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Nixon at the White House on May 14, 1970. After retiring from the Navy he worked for both Department of Defense and Massachusetts Department of Veterans' Services as Secretary respectively.

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Boston Veterans Services Commissioner Robert Santiago said that Captain Kelley is an American hero deserving of this dedication: "This mural is a special 'thank you' from the community for his selfless devotion to our country." Kara Elliott-Ortega, Chief of Arts & Culture added that public art plays an important role in preserving public memory: "We're proud to support a mural that uplifts the legacy of a Boston native and Medal of Honor recipient."

The mural was funded by Mayor's Office Of Arts And Culture with work beginning first week July after Dan Hudson, West Roxbury Liaison in Mayor's Office Of Neighborhood Services was approached by local residents about their desire to tribute Captain Kelley. Local artist Laura DeDonato Wiatt painted it depicting Captain Kelley and not-yet-built USS Thomas G Kelly on side Boston Ale House located corner Centre And Hastings Streets West Roxbury . She expressed her honor at painting portrait local hero saying: "It was great working with Dan Hudson, Boston Ale House, and people West Roxbury... During process creating painting I learned so much about Captain Kelley through speaking people who know respect him."

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Dan Hudson concluded saying: "As Mayor's Liaison To West Roxbury it is my distinct honor pleasure help celebrate Captain Kelley with Offices Arts And Culture And Veterans Services... I'm beyond grateful patience care local artist Laura DeDonato Wiatt put into this piece look forward this mural being point pride West Roxbury generations come."

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