Where’s Pat’s Memorial?

As I read in the papers this week that a memorial bench is being dedicated to Puppy Doe here in Quincy, MA, I can’t help but wonder if we as a society have our priorities straight.

I favor the strong new laws punishing those who harm animals.  I believe dogs are the closest things to angels on Earth – they truly are great creatures, and anybody who harms them is a lowlife who should be punished.  If we need to erect a memorial to an unknown dog to help remind people that we don’t accept cruelty to animals, then so be it.

But if we can justify all this time and money to remember Puppy Doe, where’s our memorial to Patrick J. Kelliher?

In 1908, Patrick J. Kelliher was a four year veteran of the Quincy Police Department when he received a call that a group of men were causing trouble on a train.  He went to the Quincy Square station and arrested the lead instigator.  Back then patrolmen didn’t have individual squad cars.  In fact, they didn’t have radios!  Kelliher had to drag his suspect to a nearby call box to get a wagon to pick them up.  While on the phone, the suspect’s friends attacked Kelliher and savagely beat him.

Officer Patrick J. Kelliher's headstone.

Officer Patrick J. Kelliher’s headstone.

Four months later Kelliher died from his injuries.  He was 39 years old.

Is there a monument somewhere in Quincy Center remembering the sacrifice Officer Kelliher made there?  No.  Is there one perhaps in another part of Quincy, maybe somewhere Kelliher enjoyed walking with his wife?  No.

In fact, the only physical remembrance of the sacrifice Officer Kelliher made is his headstone hidden way back in a remote corner of St. Mary’s cemetery on the western edge of Quincy.  It’s in a part of the cemetery you can barely see from the road – if you could even call Reardon St. a road.

Kelliher’s headstone is hidden behind a towering granite wall, and on the other three sides by trees.  Unless you were brought to the location, which I was, or given the geological coordinates, you probably wouldn’t be able to find it.

Way in the background you can barely see the entrance to the small area in which Kelliher's headstone is located.

Way in the background you can barely see the entrance to the small area in which Kelliher’s headstone is located.

How is it conceivable that we’re dedicating a monument to a dog, when we’ve failed to remember a man who dedicated his life – literally gave his life – to us?

In 1938, Quincy Police officers used their own money to build a memorial to departed members of the Quincy Police Relief Association, now known as the Quincy Police Mutual Aid Association.  This isn’t a monument for officers lost in the line of duty, it’s simply a memorial for all of their brothers and sisters who have passed for any reason.  We didn’t erect this, nor did we pay for this.  The cops paid for their own monument.

Since Officer Kelliher’s death, there have been four other Quincy Police officers who have died in the line of duty.  And to be brutally honest, there have been countless cops who suffer from or have succumbed to the stress and emotional trauma they suffer on a daily basis as part of the job.

I think it’s fine Puppy Doe is getting a memorial bench.  But could we perhaps try to remember Pat Kelliher, too?

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