To the editor:
Joseph S. Mattos was my mother’s older brother. Although she was only 11 years old when he was killed near Exermont during the battle for the Meuse Argonne Forest in 1918 during the First World War, she passed on to me many memories of her childhood and her brother, but more than that she passed on a tremendous respect for her brother and the sacrifice he made for his country.
That respect has helped to guide me through my service in the United States Marine Corps and during my entire life.
Early in our married life we lived on Friend Street and I took great pride in showing my young son, just starting in the first grade at Veterans Memorial School, the ball field and memorial plaque dedicated to his great uncle Joseph.
Mattos Field was originally dedicated in 1935 and serves not only as a memorial to Joseph’s sacrifice but as a tribute to the sacrifice of the entire Mattos family and the dedication and patriotism of Gloucester’s Portuguese community. This sacrifice, and the sacrifice of the Mattos family, is what is memorialized in Mattos Field on Webster Street just a stone’s throw from his family home on Linnet Place. It is most fitting that his memorial should be in the neighborhood where he grew up, in the heart of Gloucester’s Portuguese community.
In the early ’50s when they were planning to build what is now known at the Veterans Memorial school, there was strong sentiment to name it the Joseph S. Mattos Memorial School, because they were taking a large part of his memorial field. However, veterans groups prevailed and the school received its present name, honoring all veterans.
My uncle Joseph never became a “veteran.” He did not live to receive that honor. Now they want to build a new and much larger school, taking what little remains of Mattos Field to build on, even though this site is the most expensive, by far, of all the options available.
I feel it would be doing a great disservice to the memory of Joseph S. Mattos, the Mattos family and to Gloucester’s Portuguese community to take this small piece of Gloucester when other sites would be more suitable for this enlarged school.
Surely for the $5 million difference over the next most suitable site a better piece of land could be purchased, saving this dedicated bit of open space for the enjoyment of the citizens of Gloucester.
Yes, the education of our children is important but, one important part of that education is to teach them to respect our country, traditions and the people who sacrificed everything to ensure these children have the right to that education.
Reginald B. Santos