Whenever incidents like the one that took place at the end of, as Natick Select Board Chair Karen Adelman-Foster put it, “3 hours of really wonderful Memorial Day observances,” we struggle over whether to focus on the positive or the negative. Of not allowing a selfish individual act to overshadow the good work of others, but also not wanting to pretend something disrespectful didn’t happen. Of not giving a larger platform to someone undeserving.
We saw a similar situation unfold at the end of the Boston Celtics’ Game 4 loss to the Brooklyn Nets, when an attendee chucked a water bottle at rival player Kyrie Irving and became a bigger story than the basketball itself.
Natick hasn’t shied away from addressing the Memorial Day incident in which a veteran got up during an observance at Natick Common and displayed a Confederate flag alongside an American flag held by a woman. Local TV news stations flocked to Natick to follow up with town officials after the fact.
Natick Veterans Service Director Paul Carew reflected on the incident at the start of Wednesday night’s Select Board meeting, restating thoughts shared earlier with various news outlets that it was “very hurtful to me and other veterans involved in the town of Natick.”
Carew, who said the incident had been eating at him in the days since it happened, continued: “The Confederate flag means nothing. It doesn’t mean history. It means hatred. It means racism.”
He vowed that veteran leaders in town will take all steps necessary to assure that something like this never happens again in Natick. Carew said he hopes the individual who displayed the flag will recognize “what a hateful mistake he made.”