To the editor:

I strongly oppose the proposal to take all or part of Mattos Field to build a new school, for very good reasons.

First and foremost is preserving the memory and the example of heroism set by my uncle Joseph S. Mattos. Joseph was my mother’s brother and although he was killed 21 years before I was born, his memory served as a positive example as I was growing up in Gloucester.

On Oct. 5, 1918, Private Joseph S. Mattos lost his life in combat in France. He was the youngest Portuguese man from Gloucester to die in World War I.

Joseph was not drafted. He voluntarily joined the U.S. Army to serve the country of his birth during a time of great need.

On Dec. 1, 1935, Mattos Field on Webster Street in Gloucester was formally dedicated in his memory.

Mattos Field 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, and to the United States of America and the cause of freedom.

Mattos Field is situated in the heart of the Portuguese community, just a stone’s throw from where Joseph was born and lived at 6 Linnet Place, just off Sadler Street, and is a most fitting location for his memorial.

To abandon this memorial to a Portuguese-American hero would be an insult to Joseph, the Mattos family, Gloucester’s Portuguese community and all veterans.

What example would we be setting for our youth, who we expect to be the next generation joining the military to defend our nation from future perils?

Another major reason to save and preserve Mattos Field is the recently completed project to clean up, preserve and light it. This project, led by the “Light Up Mattos” committee, was an praiseworthy example of what can be accomplished by community activism.

Hundreds of hours of volunteer labor were expended in physical labor and personal expense to clean up the field and paint the bleachers.

Hundreds of additional hours were devoted to raising private funds and attracting public grants to install lighting.

Many Gloucester businesses and individuals donated funds, time and material to make this project the success that it is.

To destroy the field now, less that a year after it was completed would not only be a disservice to those responsible for the field’s restoration, but a waste of public and private money and would set a lasting bad example to any other persons or groups thinking of taking on community improvement projects.

Reginald B. Santos