'Mine eyes have seen the glory...'
By David L. Harris / Staff Writer - West Roxbury Transcript
Thursday, May 13, 2004
The solemn sounds of bagpipes streamed through Robin Street in West Roxbury Saturday as crowds joined in the dedication of two "Memorial Hero Squares" to two soldiers who died serving their country.
Chief Warrant Officer Kyran E. Kennedy, killed when his Black Hawk helicopter crashed near Tikrit, Iraq, in November, and Lt. Heidi M. Kniupis, killed when her Air Force plane crashed in California in 1982, were memorialized for doing their duty while serving in the military.
John K. Kennedy Jr., Kyran Kennedy's brother, said his brother was just a nice guy from a nice neighborhood who wanted to serve in the Army.
"Few who knew Kyran would forget him," he said. "I don't think he ever met anybody he didn't like."
Kennedy's path into the Army was not quite what his family expected, his brother explained.
"Quite a while ago, he started off from here on what was supposed to be a bicycle trip around the country, that somehow managed to wind up with him enlisting in the army," he said.
"From there, he went to a whole bunch of different places, one of which he didn't come back from. We miss him ... we all miss him."
Elaine Kniupis remembered her daughter as smart, hard working and athletic. "She was so special," she said. "Kyran and Heidi had the same fine character: a sense of duty and a love for their country."
Local politicians remembered Kennedy and Kniupis for their commitment to the armed forces and for their ultimate sacrifice.
District 6 City Councilor John M. Tobin recalled Kniupis and Kennedy as selfless people. "We are deeply grateful to all those that sacrifice," said Tobin, who was instrumental in the installation of the squares.
"It isn't a coincidence that these two beautiful, healthy, talented people died for their country because good people have good people," said state Sen. Marian Walsh, D-West Roxbury. "People with virtue teach their children about virtue.
"The only way to hold virtue and truth alive is to be willing to live for it and die for it."
Another official agreed. "Heidi and Kyran lived up the three virtues of the military: honor, commitment and courage, and carried that with them and served to the very end," said state Rep. Michael Rush, D-West Roxbury.
Still, the realities of war entered into the memorial.
"Every day that we turn on the news, we hear about families who are continuing to sacrifice so that we can have a freedom here in our country and around the globe," said At-Large City Councilor Maura Hennigan.
"We can debate the issue of the war in Iraq, but we cannot debate the sacrifices that our men and women are making," said Mayor Thomas M. Menino.
When the speeches ended, Demitri Haitas, who sang at Kyran Kennedy's funeral, sang "Battle Hymn of the Republic" and "Let There Be Peace on Earth," as the crowd sang along.
Then Albert and Elaine Kniupis pulled on a gold string attached to a black cloth that covered the "Memorial Hero Square" sign bearing their daughter's name. One block away, Kyran Kennedy's youngest son, Christopher, tearfully pulled off the cloth covering his father's sign, joining the 1,224 squares around Boston.
Even with the sadness on this sun-dappled street, Kyran's brother, John, added some brightness.
"I think it's safe to say he's probably looking at us now saying, 'What are they making such a fuss about me for?'"
David Harris can be reached at [email protected]