Archives for June 2012

Honoring our Fallen Heroes – Memorial Day 2012

Alma Hart remembering her son PFC John D. Hart who was killed in Iraq in 2003

Several hundred people gathered to watch as the annual Memorial Day Parade made its way from the Olde Burial Ground on to the Lexington Battle Green for the 2012 Memorial Day celebration in Lexington. The day’s events began with wreath laying ceremonies at the Fallen Fire Fighter Memorial located at the Fire Department headquarters Lexington, and at the Westview Cemetery on Bedford Street. The parade participants gathered at the old School Administration Building (The White House) where they proceeded to the Munroe Cemetery for a reading of General Logan’s Orders which established Memorial Day, and the Gettysburg Address. The a visit to the grave of Thomas Cosgrove, a Medal of Honor recipient from the Civil War. The parade then proceeded to the Hodgdon Memorial at the Lexington Police Department and to the war memorial in front of Cary Hall. Wreaths were placed at both memorials. The group then marched down Massachusetts Avenue to the WWII Memorial located next to the Lexington Visitors Center where they placed wreaths there and at the memorial for the Minute Men who fought on the Lexington Green in the early morning hours of April 19th, 1775.



The parade then moved along to the Olde Burial Ground where the Minute Men paid tribute to Captain John Parker and placed a wreath at his grave.

Once gathered on the Lexington Green, the celebration was called to order by Suzie Barry, chair of the Lexington Town Celebrations Committee. Both the American Flag and the Vietnam/MIA flags were raised as those in attendance saluted or stood with hands over hearts. The most poignant moment came as Suzie introduced Alma Hart of Bedford. Alma spoke eloquently about her experience as a mother who has lost a son at war. her son, PFC. John D. Hart was killed in action on October 18, 2003 during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Her comments were moving, and her courage and determination to celebrate her son’s sacrifice was nothing less than extraordinary.


Remarks by Alma Hart on the Lexington Green, Memorial Day 2012

Memorial Day 2012

Today we celebrate Memorial Day. We celebrate it! On this one day, we Americans set aside politics and commerce, and take time to reflect on all that was lost by the brave men and women who died in the service of our country.

Many of you standing here today are also remembering a friend or a loved one. Please, for just a moment, raise your hand and be recognized.

Often, in the early morning, lying in my bed, I become aware of a longing to see John again. As I awaken, I remember that he is dead. On those mornings, I stop to look at the photos from his childhood hanging in the hallway. Many mornings, I see my husband stop to look at those same photos.

Being here on Lexington Green brings back so many memories: like the first time we brought our towheaded tykes to see the Patriots Day Re-enactments. It was pouring rain and 40 degrees in the predawn gloom as we trudged here in our brand new raincoats and boots. As the sun came up the Minutemen took their positions while the Red Coats approached through the mist. I remember the drums, the shouting, the gunfire. As you know the fight only lasted a few minutes, but 5 year old John never forgot it.

Many times we have brought visiting family here and stopped to read the sign on Jonathan Harrington’s house. It says that mortally wounded that day, he crawled home and died at his wife’s feet. Imagine that. What would the Harringtons think if they could look around at us today and know that we remember him for a day when all seemed lost?

One year we brought John’s Cub Scout Den and watched them swarm a couple of Colonials who showed them how to load and fire the guns. My boy never out grew wanting to be a soldier. The events of 911 the year he graduated Bedford High only strengthened his resolve. Preparing for boot camp the summer of 2002, he ran along Battle Road once a week with his backpack loaded with books for weight. We were so proud of him. When the country called he answered like the militia on the Green.

October 18, 2003 John had just turned 20. He was the machine gunner in an unarmored Humvee at the rear of a three vehicle convoy ambushed on a lonely road at night. My fair haired, broad shouldered boy stood up and fired his weapon to defend his injured buddies. When he ran out of bullets he was shot in the neck at close range and killed.

Bedford also lost a marine in Iraq. Lance Corporal Travis Desiato was 19 November 15, 2004 when he kicked in a door in Fallujah and found himself outgunned by a group of fanatics who had built a bunker inside the building. His Marines fought several hours to recover him, and in the end to bring his body home.

It would be wrong to hide the costs of war. It has become too easy to send another man’s son to war. The courage to act is the final tribute to those who came before us and a lasting legacy for those who come after us.

In 1910, Theodore Roosevelt spoke at the Sorbonne in Paris about Citizenship in a Republic. He said, “It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat. “

We buried our child as a young soldier in Arlington National Cemetery on a gentle slope of green lawn. Following the hearse into the cemetery I was moved by the visitors who stopped on the sidewalks to pay their respects. They stood there, holding their hands over their hearts watching the flag draped casket go by. Earlier that morning I had put a note in that casket promising John I would think of him every day. And I have.

Two years ago the Massachusetts Military Heroes Fund began a new tradition. Last week hundreds of volunteers planted 33,000 flags on Boston Common to honor our Massachusetts Fallen from the Civil War to today. If you haven’t had a chance to see them in person, take a minute to look at the pictures. Breath taking and heartbreaking, each flag represents a life well lived and tragically cut short. I look at that field and remember the beauty of a child’s smile and a young man’s dreams.

Our flag flies over Lexington Green every day and it never sets. Whenever you see Old Glory waving in the breeze, remember the grit, determination and sacrifice of our forebears. Memorial Day is not about men and women who gave their lives willingly. No, they loved life with all its joys and challenges. They were willing to risk all, their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor for a cause and an outcome yet uncertain. Some fell in the fight and some remained standing. On Memorial Day we celebrate the fallen: the Desiatos, the Harts, the Harringtons and all the others who dared greatly in military service to our country.

A poem by John Maxwell Edmonds in World War I became popular as an epitaph:

We died and never knew,

But, well or ill,

Freedom, we died for you

Went the day well?

Those who fall in war do not know how it ends. How it ends is up to us. I am honored to be asked to speak here today.

Thank you.

Alma Hart


Share this:

Meet Me at the Fair

Photos by Rachel Victor & Laurie Atwater

Share this:

Pat Costello – Unsung Heroine


By State Senator Ken Donnelly  |

Caption for Picture: Representative Jay Kaufman, Unsung Heroine Pat Costello, and Cindy Friedman, Chief of Staff for Senator Ken Donnelly.

We see heroes in our local papers and on the news almost every day. They are typically someone who has performed a brave act or gone above and beyond the call of duty; the fireman who runs back into a burning house to save a family’s beloved pet, or the bystander who was witness to a car accident and performed CPR on the victim until the emergency personnel arrived. These people greatly deserve the recognition and praise they receive for their heroic actions. But there are those who better our communities behind the scenes that we don’t ever h ear about. This is why I was extremely proud to nominate Pat Costello as an Unsung Heroine through the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women.

Pat is the type of woman every community should have. A long time community advocate and volunteer, Pat currently dedicates most of her time to helping others in her hometown of Lexington. She is currently the Co-Chair of the Selectman’s Tax Exemption and 7Deferral Advisory Committee, a group that works on issues regarding local property tax relief for seniors and other qualifying groups. Pat also keeps abreast of the most current state legislation regarding income limits and benefit amounts and undertakes the tedious task of updating the town’s tax deferral literature throughout the year for her fellow residents.

Pat is a volunteer with the AARP’s tax preparation program. Each year she takes a multi-day exam to be certified and then volunteers many hours of her time at the Lexington Senior Center helping seniors prepare their tax returns. While Pat’s time may seem to be consumed with tax law, she is also an active member of the League of Women Voters, and can be seen around town in the summer in a bonnet and period dress in her role as a guide on the Liberty Ride and in Lexington’s Historic Houses.

The Unsung Heroines are women who don’t make the news, but make the difference. They are the women who use their time, talent and enthusiasm to enrich the lives of others and make a difference in our neighborhoods, cities and towns. They are mentors, volunteers and innovators who do what needs to be done without the expectation of recognition or gratitude. These women are the glue that keeps a community together, and every community has them.

Pat is an exceptional woman and I am truly grateful for all that she does to make Lexington a better place for those that live there. I was thrilled to hear that she was chosen as an Unsung Heroine and that she is getting the recognition she deserves for all her hard work.

Share this:

Cary Library Summer Programs for Kids!

Registration for the 2012 Summer Reading Program will begin on Monday, June 4. Children may keep track of the amount of time they are read to, or spend reading, between Monday, June 4 and Tuesday, August 28. Even children who don’t know how to read may participate, because reading aloud and listening to books on CD also count. Each time a child completes 10 hours of reading, he or she may choose a paperback book or another small prize. And in keeping with the summer theme of dreams and nighttime, the Friends of Cary Library will donate 10 cents to Bat Conservation International for every 10 hours a child reads, or is read to, to support three types of bats, and research into preventing bat diseases.

Children entering grades 4 and up will have the additional option of trying Cary Library’s 2012 Summer Reading Challenge. Beginning on Monday, June 4, stop by the Children’s Room to pick up a “DREAM BIG—READ!” Reading Challenge form, or print one from our website, at . Participants who read one book in each of 10 categories, keeping track on their Reading Challenge form, will receive a special prize, and their names will be added to the Library’s 2012 Reading Challenge Wall of Fame.


Cary Memorial Library will kick off its 2012 Summer Reading Program, “DREAM BIG—READ!,” with two special concerts by Parents’ Choice Award-winning singer-songwriters, Davis Bates and Roger Tincknell, on Thursday, June 28. “IMAGINE THAT: Celebrating Reading in Story and Song!” will be presented twice, at 2 and 3:30 p.m., for families with children ages 3 and up.

Davis Bates and Roger Tincknell have over seven decades of combined experience performing for families, in community settings throughout the Northeast, and are known both for their warm and participatory performing style. The performances will take place at 2 pm. and 3:30 pm. on Thursday, June 28, 2012. Space is limited. Free tickets will be available in the Cary Library Children’s Room beginning at 7 p.m. on Monday, June 18. Telephone reservations will be accepted beginning at 7:30 p.m.


Do you love LEGOs? Are you creative? Join the Library’s first-ever LEGO®fest! on Saturday, June 9, from 11 am. To 4 pm. Enter an original creation in the LEGO Building Contest, in one of three categories: Team (a family or group), Individual (ages 6-9), or Individual (ages 10-12). See amazing LEGO® creations built by your friends and neighbors, take the Grab-Bag Challenge, meet other LEGO® enthusiasts, and learn about the new Brickbuilder’s Club beginning this fall.


Professional actors from Winchester’s KidStock Creative Theater will return to Cary Library this summer with four original musicals for families with children ages 3 & up. All four performances will be held at 2 p.m. on Tuesday afternoons, July 10 & 17, August 7 & 21, in the Cary Library Meeting Room. Space is limited. Free tickets will be available in the Children’s Room beginning at 7:00 p.m. on four Monday evenings: July 2 for the July 10 performance, entitled “Beauty and the Beach,” July 9 for the July 17 show, entitled “The Velveteen Robot,” July 30 for the August 7 performance, entitled “Sleeping Ugly,” and August 13 for the August 21 show, entitled “The Little Martian.” Telephone reservations will be accepted beginning at 7:30 p.m.


Furry Winged Creatures of the Night: Bats!! From 4-5 pm. on Wednesday, July 11, children entering grades 3-5 will learn how bats fly, how many mosquitoes a bat can eat in a night, why these important creatures are in danger, and will make an origami bat or their own to take home. Space is limited to 12. Sign up online ( or in person beginning at 7 pm. on Monday, July 2. Telephone reservations will be accepted beginning at 7:30 p.m.


This summer’s “Picnic @ The Movies” programs will be held on four Wednesday evenings, July 11, July 25, August 8, and August 22, in the large Meeting Room. Bring a picnic dinner, spread out a blanket, and enjoy a family movie in the Library’s air-conditioned Meeting Room. We can’t list the names of these popular family films here, but they are listed in the Children’s Room’s Summer Program brochure and on the Library website ( ). The doors will open at 6:00, and the movies will begin at 6:30 p.m. No registration is necessary.


“Family Crafts,” seven special craft programs for children of all ages, return this summer with new crafts and old favorites! Craft programs will be held from 2:30-4 p.m. on Thursday afternoons, July 12, 19, & 26, and August 2, 9, 16, & 23, in the Library Meeting Room. Children under age 8 must be accompanied by an adult. No registration is necessary.


Cary Library’s 11th annual “Truck Day!,” on Friday morning July 13 from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. , will give children an up-close look at their favorite vehicles from the Lexington Department of Public Works, the Lexington Police Department, and the Lexington Fire Department. This program will be held, rain or shine, in the parking lot behind Cary Memorial Library, at 1874 Massachusetts Avenue. No registration is necessary.


The Children’s Room’s eighth annual “Bring-a-Bear Picnic” will take place at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, July 18, on the lawn across Clarke Street from the Library, or in the large Meeting Room if it rains. Bring your own bear, and the Library will supply teddy bear crackers and juice. No registration is necessary.


SCRABBLE! Children entering grades 5-6 are invited to test their word and strategy skills by playing SCRABBLE, competing individually or as part of a team, from 4 to 5:30 p.m. on Wednesdays, July 18, August 1 & 15. This is not a tournament, just an opportunity to play the game and to have fun. Attendance is limited to 20. Sign up online ( or in person, beginning at 7 p.m. on Monday, July 9 (for the July 18 program), July 23 (for the August 1 program), or August 6 (for the August 15 program). Telephone reservations will be accepted beginning at 7:30 p.m.


Eyes on Owls will present two performances of “Who-ooo-‘s Watching You? Owls of the World,” for families with children ages 4 and up, at 2 or 4 pm. on Tuesday, July 24. How many of us have ever seen a live owl up close? Explore the world of owls with naturalist Marcia Wilson, photographer Mark Wilson, and six lively owls! Space is limited. Free tickets will be available in the Children’s Room beginning at 7 pm. on Monday July 16. Telephone reservations will be accepted beginning at 7:30 pm.


Children entering grades 4-5 are invited to go on a “Library Treasure Hunt” from 3:30 to 5 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon, July 25. Find hidden treasure at the Library! Participants will be divided into teams, and will follow clues to find the treasure. Attendance is limited to 20. Sign up online ( or in person, beginning at 7 p.m. on Monday, July 16. Telephone reservations will be accepted beginning at 7:30 p.m.


Stuffed Animal Sleep-Over! Ever wonder what your toys are up to after you go to sleep? Preschoolers are invited to bring a stuffed animal or doll to a fun-filled sleep-over at the Library. Children will drop off their toy between 3 and 7 pm. on Tuesday, August 7, and return at 10:30 the next morning, August 8, to rejoin their toy for stories, a snack, and a slide show of sleep-over adventures! No registration is necessary.


“Beat the Heat!” Children entering grades 2-4 are invited to come in out of the sun and enjoy a cool hour making ice cream and listening to summery stories and poems, from 4 to 5 p.m. on Wednesday, August 8. Attendance is limited to 10. Sign up online ( or in person, beginning at 7 p.m. on Monday, July 30. Telephone reservations will be accepted beginning at 7:30 p.m.


Share this:

Unusual Weather Patterns

Unusual weather patterns have caused a buzz amongst plant people. Most will agree that bloom times are at least four weeks early due to exceptionally warm weather early on but it seems that April showers are four weeks late, arriving through most of May. We may need to change a popular phrase to ” May showers bring June flowers”. Let’s face it, cool damp weather is what were used to during springtime in New England.

After exceptionally warm and dry weather from February through April I was convinced that we wouldn’t have any fungus problems but the cool damp weather throughout May has caused an explosion of fungal spores. The dampness occurred simultaneously with tender new foliage allowing many fungi to permeate leaf surfaces.

I am fielding many calls about London plane trees that look horrible due to a fungus disease called Anthracnose that has caused the leaves to wilt. This form of anthracnose is primarily an aesthetic concern and not so much of a health problem. As the weather gets warmer the plane trees will send out new leaves. Anthracnose can affect everything from tomato plants to large shade trees during cool damp weather. Effects from this fungus disease can vary from very mild to very serious.

Anthracnose on Florida dogwoods can be very serious and cause plant mortality over several years. Dogwood anthracnose appears as spots that look like frogs eyes on the lower leaves and then progresses into the stem damaging the vascular tissue. This form of anthracnose on dogwoods destroys the conductive tissue and essentially clogs up the plumbing causing stem die back.

There are preventative sprays for many fungus problems that should only be applied by licensed professionals. Fungicides are always applied preventively starting at but break. If symptoms appear it is often too late to doing anything about it. If you have a valued tree that is susceptible to a fungus problem, plan for preventative spraying because chances are we will have cool damp weather every spring.

The best advice that I can give is plant disease resistant specimens. Cornus Mas and Cornus alternifolia are both disease-resistant native dogwoods that are often overlooked in the landscape.

Hold onto your hat as hurricane season may be one month early and hopefully summer sticks around one month later

People who plant trees have faith in the future

Share this:

The Libra Solution~Families in the Balance

Lisa D’Annolofo Levey with her husband Brian Levey and their sons Forrest and Skylar on a family trip. Lisa describes the trip which is a great reflection of their Libra lifestyle: “As a family we traveled for 6 weeks in the summer of 2010 – four to Alaska and the National Parks and the other time in Washington DC and Virginia for a family reunion. Bryan and I had long planned two special family trips and this was the first. We saw/see these years as the sweet spot when the kids are great travelers but no one is off to college yet. Bryan took a leave of absence from work and I managed my consulting projects and book writing around the trip.”

By Laurie Atwater  | 

Last week I eagerly sat down with Lexingtonian Lisa D’Annolfo Levey to discuss her new book The Libra Solution: Shedding Excess and Redefining Success at Work and at Home.

Work/family balance and gender norms have always fascinated me.

How do we perform well at work, provide financial support for our families, parent our children and nurture ourselves in a way that is both personally rewarding and sustainable? It’s a question that working women and men struggle with throughout their lives.

As we talk, I realize that I have been on this path all my life growing up as I did in the sixties, becoming a working woman in the seventies and a parent and working mom in the eighties. Along the way I’ve been frustrated, confused, rebellious, sad, furious, exhausted, disappointed and grateful—indeed, finding balance is as complex as our modern lives.

In the early seventies when the promise of the women’s movement lay thick in the air, smart young women thought they would be entering a post-patriarchal society when they went out into the professional world.

 Many were shocked to find that they weren’t welcomed, appreciated or treated as equals in the workplace. With relative dismay they also found that their male peers reverted to a 50s mentality once they stepped off campus and joined the “good ole boy’s club.” It was much more difficult to fight entrenched gender bias than we had ever imagined. And, once career women began having babies, they were totally unprepared for the strong force that motherhood exerts—especially when it is combined with the enormous societal validation of becoming a mom. Even the most liberated women could recognize that motherhood was the one arena where they had authority and control. That was quite intoxicating when combined with the strong biological need to nurture.

Over the years women have been accused of wanting to “have it all” to the detriment of their children, or not being committed enough to work to the detriment of their careers. Companies continue to struggle with the needs of women and families. Women are tired of working the “second shift” after coming home from the office. Exhausted and frustrated, many women drop out to raise their children because they can’t find a balanced approach. Corporations worry about “brain drain” as talented employees “opt out.”

Meanwhile intrepid consultants like Lexington resident Levey are still studying the world of work and family and attempting to drive organizational transformation in Fortune 500 companies. Over the past twenty years Levey has interviewed hundreds of employees and she has heard first-hand the frustrations of women and men who feel stuck and trapped in gendered roles. She has worked with an impressive portfolio of clients from Deloitte to Marriott to help evaluate their workplace culture and policies.

A Long Journey

Levey’s parents had split up by the time she was three. She was the youngest of seven and she had watched her mom exhaust herself caring for the children. Observing her mother had an effect on her although she didn’t know it at the time or for many years. As a kid Lisa didn’t spend much time idealizing family life or dreaming about getting married like most little girls did. Somehow she looked at her mom who she writes “was born in a generation—and in a situation—where he never got to live or to even understand her dreams,” and knew she wanted something different. It began with education and a career.

When Levey had her own children she wanted a more balanced approach to marriage and family—though she admits questioning at the time whether she wanted to have children at all. She had been married to her husband Bryan for nine years before she became pregnant with her first son. When they became parents, they began a journey of putting theory into action, a process that she admits “worked exquisitely” at times and other times “not so well.” The Libra Solution is a systematic approach to co-parenting that she and her husband have evolved over the years. It’s an approach to family life that has allowed them to achieve more balance. Through her book she hopes to inspire those who are interested in a new approach to marriage and parenting. “I don’t want to convince anyone of anything,” she says. “I just want to put it out there in the world as a model that has relevance—that is viable.” Levey invites you to consider this parenting partnership as one possible path through family life. It is a path of “partnership, gender equality, and moderation.”

True Partnership

With all of the craziness of work outside our doors, Levey advises couples to look for ways “in their own homes, in their own lives” to find more balance. The Libra lifestyle is a true partnership model in which both parents are equally responsible for children, housework and financial support of the family. In the Libra model gender does not determine the division of labor at home or at work.

This is a model that won’t work for everyone and Levey is clear about that. Levey cites data around division of labor in the family between dual working couples that indicate most couples still adhere to the traditional gendered model where mom does most of the parenting and most of the housework in addition to holding down a job.

“The people who are attracted to the Libra model have an openness and generosity toward their partner. The wife wants to work so her husband won’t have to shoulder all of the financial responsibility and the husband wants that full partnership both because he wants a close relationship with the children and he also wants to support his wife’s career.” This takes a very confident set of individuals who are willing to push back against expectations.

Levers of Influence

Levey’s book is a deep investigation of workplace cultures, working styles, gender identity and parenting. It invites us to explore our own self-defeating habits and beliefs. Every step of the way she cites pertinent research and insights from her own work and the work of others in the field. Levey says, “A big part of my goal in writing this book was to ask: Where are your levers of influence?” That’s important because in this fast and furious world, it’s easy for all of us to feel that we have no influence—no control over the two forces of home and work. Levey feels that our current way of working is unsustainable.“I think that the rules of engagement have changed,” she says. “We’ve gone a little crazy with this all the time, everywhere availability—it’s just sort of expanded. There’s no container for anything and we don’t spend a lot of time exploring the downside of what we’ve created.”

However, she is still optimistic that employees can work with employers on setting boundaries at work. “There’s a lot of falsehoods out there like working harder is more efficient and being constantly connected makes you more committed,” she says. Levey effectively documents the way in which the drive for increased productivity has created longer and longer work hours and less time for family life. The current business culture too often rewards this excessive behavior that Levey describes as the “ADHD” work style.

While her work has focused on the workplace and its impact on the family dynamic, Levey’s personal takeaways are insightful. Throughout the book she helps to illuminate the ways in which we contribute to our own problems and recommends changes we can make to think and work differently.

Extreme Parenting

Her chapter on “Extreme Parenting” will resonate with many Lexington parents who struggle with the “high-pressure and test-focused approach to public education.” combined with the general climate of “outsized expectations.” Levey explores the lure of electronics and the way they disconnect us from our kids, the plethora of “parenting experts” that make us feel incompetent as parents and escalation of enrichment programs, activities and other programs designed to give our children a competitive advantage. Because women are assigned by society to be primarily responsible for the success or failure of children the anxiety they face as parents is intense.

One of the major goals of the Libra model is to “purposely bring the intensity down” on all fronts—especially in parenting. By enlisting the full participation of dads in the parenting role, women can ratchet down the stress and begin to enjoy their kids. “Getting dads involved right from the beginning, to have time alone with their children where they are totally in charge is a powerful thing.”

But it’s not easy for many women to invite men into their sphere of influence. Just as men have acted as the gatekeepers in the workplace, women, often unconsciously, follow the same practice when it comes to parenting. Being a mother is the one role in society in which women are automatic experts and unquestionably in-charge. Women are validated as mothers in a way that they may have never experienced before—not even on their best day at work!

Of course, just as excluding women from full acceptance in the workplace reinforces gender stereotypes, excluding men from a fuller role in parenting has the same effect. The Libra model advocates for full inclusion on all fronts because it strengthens people—both men and women—and it greatly strengthens families. Implementing this type of arrangement in your life takes trial and error, planning, lots of compromise and sacrifice. To make this lifestyle a reality it is often necessary to negotiate limits with employers and to downsize ambitions at different periods during a typical marriage—especially during the intense child rearing years. In her final chapters Levey extols the benefits of the Libra lifestyle for everyone involved—especially the children.

If you find yourself constantly stressed and pressured, exhausted, grumpy and having no energy to invest in your kids or your relationship, consider reading this book. But don’t think this is a plan that you can implement overnight. Levy compares it to steering the QE2. She advises small steps. But she is ultimately optimistic that work can change and we can change too. “One of the things that happen to couples in this model,” Levey says, “is they see the power of standing together. The couple ends up feeling more empowered charting their own course.” Most of all, Levey says, “I found my way to this and I feel really, really grateful.”

Lisa D’Annolfo Levey is a former senior director of advisory services at Catalyst. She is a recognized expert in the fields of women’s leadership, diversity, and work-life integration. Levey has consulted to some of the most admired organization in the world on women’s leadership and the work-life issues of employees. Clients have included in the United Nations, Exxon Mobil, IBM, Johnson & Johnson, The Campbell Soup Company and UBS, among many others. She lives with her husband and two sons in Lexington.

Share this:

Lexington Native Colonel Robert McLaughlin Named Chief Of Staff of U.S. Forces in Afghanistan

By Jim Shaw

Lexington native, Colonel Robert F. McLaughlin addresses the audience during the U.S. Army Garrison Fort Carson change of command ceremony May 10 on Founders Field.

The war in Afghanistan has continued now for about 128 months, making it America’s longest war. While some may argue differently, most accounts have the Vietnam War running about 103 months. The point is, with the killing of Osama Bin Laden and the fracturing of the Taliban base of operations, President Obama is looking now to reduce U.S. forces in Afghanistan and to help train government, military and civilian leaders to ensure Afghan sovereignty, stability and prosperity. There is light at the end of the tunnel and the Obama Administration has made the peaceful transition of power in Afghanistan a top priority. Toward that end, a Lexington native, Colonel Robert McLaughlin, has been deployed to oversee the reduction of troops and equipment from Afghanistan.

Colonel McLaughlin, a 1981 graduate of Lexington High School, is up for the challenge and is proud to have been selected to lead such an important mission. Having just completed a three-year assignment as garrison commander at Fort Carson in Colorado, McLaughlin will now serve as Chief of Staff of U.S. Forces in Afghanistan. This will be his 3rd overseas deployment since the start of the war, and his first deployment to Afghanistan. He previously served as a battalion commander in Iraq in 2007 and 2008.

Just days away from deployment, Colonel McLaughlin shared his thoughts on the mission, reminisced about his days in Lexington and talked about his wife and five kids that will once again see their husband and father head off to war.

McLaughlin explains that his role in overseeing the reduction in forces in Afghanistan is to achieve “balance.” He said, “In the beginning it will be about maintaining balance. We’re working with the Afghans to train police and army personnel We need to ensure the effort is coordinated, balancing the current military needs against the reduction in equipment and forces.”

He continued. “As we draw down forces, we’ll be working to provide training so they can provide security for their people.”

McLaughlin points out very clearly that there is still combat going on in Afghanistan. He said, “We’re still losing soldiers, and this is when the Taliban likes to fight — during the warm season. The challenge for us is to keep up the pressure on the enemy forces as we are begin drawing down.”


Colonel Robert F. McLaughlin, right, hands the U.S. Army Garrison Fort Carson colors to Maj. Gen. Joseph Anderson, commanding general, 4th Infantry Division and Fort Carson, relinquishing command of the garrison during a May

Clearly, it’s a socially and politically volatile region and maintaining a smooth transition is a very tall order. However, in reference to the Strategic Partnership Agreement signed by both President Obama and Afghan President Hamid Karzai, the White House stated, “The Agreement affirms that cooperation between Afghanistan and the United States is based on mutual respect and shared interests. In this Agreement, we commit ourselves to the sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and national unity of Afghanistan. The Agreement is not only a signal of the United States’ long-term commitment to Afghanistan, but it enshrines our commitments to one another and a common vision for our relationship and Afghanistan’s future. U.S. commitments to support Afghanistan’s social and economic development, security, institutions and regional cooperation are matched by Afghan commitments to strengthen accountability, transparency, oversight, and to protect the human rights of all Afghans – men and women.” As Chief of Staff of U.S. Forces, McLaughlin will be at the helm of this transition.

McLaughlin looks at his days in Lexington with nostalgia and good feelings. He pointed to the places he would hang out with his friends and talked about his favorite restaurants, and talked about his family that still calls Lexington home. He was especially animated when I asked him about his Lexington High School experience. He responded immediately with accolades for his basketball coach and his football coach. He said, “I remember like it was yesterday playing for Coach Farias and Coach Tighe. They taught me things about life that I couldn’t learn anywhere else. They taught me about team play and how important it is to support one another on and off the court or the football field. These guys taught me lessons that I still draw from today. I’ll always appreciate them very much.”

McLaughlin also pointed to his Lexington lineage as having profoundly contributed to his military career. He said, “Being from the ‘Birthplace of American Liberty’, I appreciate what it means to stand up for your country. Being from Lexington holds special meaning for me.”

Colonel McLaughlin explained that leaving his family behind is very difficult, but he knows they’ll get the support they need. That’s what the military is all about he explained. Whether your the family of a soldier deployed to combat, or if you’ve lost a loved one at war, Colonel McLaughlin believes strongly that the U.S. military and the public provide great support and inspiration. Colonel McLaughlin’s wife Cindy and their five children — Kevin, Adeline, Katie, Mikey and Rachel — will stay in Colorado at Fort Carson where they have the support of other military families and friends.

Family is a big part of what keeps Colonel McLaughlin going. Just prior to Memorial Day he explained that people should understand that Memorial Day is not only about those killed serving their country, it’s also about the loved ones they leave behind who carry the burden of the loss. He said, “As garrison commander at Fort Carson, one of my duties was to offer support to the survivors of those lost during combat. It’s so important to support the families who are dealing with that kind of loss. One of the accomplishments I’m most proud of during my time as garrison commander was the establishment of the Fallen Heroes Family Center at Fort Carson.”


Julie Jerden of Houston and Jen Haugen of Everett, Wash., review portraits on the Wall of Remembrance Oct. 23, inside the Fallen Heroes Family Center at Fort Carson. Jerden and Everett were attending the 3rd Annual National Military Suicide Survivor Seminar and Good Grief Camp at a Cheyenne Mountain resort in Colorado Springs. Hundreds of people attended the seminar, where they shared hardships, searched for answers and connected with others.

The Fallen Heroes Family Center provides Survivor Outreach Services(SOS) for Families of the Fallen. The average person on the street may not fully appreciate the need for such a center, but for those in active duty and especially their families, having this kind of support is essential. Some of the services provided include legal advocacy through JAG on topics like powers of attorney, wills, living wills and trusts. The Fallen Heroes Family Center supports survivors through difficult transitions.

During the ribbon cutting ceremony in 2010, Colonel McLaughlin described the outreach services as caring, committed and survivor-orientated. “We never leave a fallen comrade or their family and this is our commitment to them,” said McLaughlin, . He explained the center supports a five-state area: Colorado, Wyoming, South Dakota, North Dakota and Utah.

There are many friends, family members and neighbors here in Lexington who are proud of their association with Robert McLaughlin. After getting reacquainted with the Colonel, I count myself among them.

Best wishes to you Colonel McLaughlin, and all the best for your family as well. Thank you for your service to our country.


Share this:

Drum Roll Please

This summer on a warm Monday evening, don’t be surprised if you see an impromptu parade, complete with a big bass drum, spilling out of the Hancock Church and winding its way through the neighborhood around the Battle Green. It’s most likely the Junior Fife & Drum Corps practicing for their next big event. Made up of students from local schools, the William Diamond Junior Fife & Drum Corps is celebrating its 10th Anniversary this year at their annual Tattoo & Muster, May 5th and 6th, at Lexington’s Minuteman National Historical Park.

Right, William Diamond Junior Drum & Fife Corps march in New York City’s 250th St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

By Digney Fignus   |

Most school children in Lexington know the story of William Diamond. He was the little drummer boy at the first battle of Lexington. The actual drum he used is still on display at Lexington’s historic Hancock-Clarke House. I learned about it when I was a student at William Diamond Middle School: “In the clear chill of an early April morning in 1775… Captain John Parker, commanding the Lexington minutemen, directed his drummer boy to go across the road to the Common and beat the call to arms. And when William Diamond, bringing the enthusiasm of his sixteen years to the beating of his gayly emblazoned drum, rolled out the call to the village’s minutemen, the War of the American Revolution began.” – William Diamond’s Drum by Arthur Bemon Tourtellot

The fife is an ancient instrument that has been used by armies since the 16th century. The sound evokes a certain patriotic emotion without fail, and has evolved over time from a rich tradition. Originally called a ‘Schweizerpfeife” or Swiss flute, fifers provided the music the first modern armies marched too. Most often they played popular or traditional songs from the soldiers’ homeland. During the American Revolution, before bugles were used, fifes and drums were an important signaling device to soldiers in the field. In the din of battle, it was almost impossible to hear shouted orders over any distance. Commanders relied on the fifes and drums to beat out particular patterns to signal soldiers to either advance, regroup, or retreat. It had a tremendous advantage because drums and the piercing

Director, Carmin Calabrese at the USS Constitution.

sound of the fife could be heard over a large distance, even as the battle raged. It was from this military background that the original Fife & Drum Corps came into being. In early armies, each company of 100 or so men would be assigned two fifers and two drummers to “sound signals.” When these smaller companies were gathered together into a Regiment or Battalion, all the fifers and drummers would play together in a “band” that would march at the head of a column or parade. Modern Fife & Drum Corps are arranged in a very specific way. Traditionally they march four abreast.

The Corps Color Guard will lead the way, followed by the Drum Major, brandishing a large ceremonial mace. He directs up to 16 fifes (4 rows) followed by one or two rows of “side drums” (snare or field drums, and long drums also called tenor drums). Bringing up the back, are the big bass drums. It’s a heck of a sound when they all get going together, and a little overwhelming to listen in an enclosed space, but on the street out in the open, there is nothing like it. The formation snaps to attention as the Drum Major’s brass-topped mace comes down. The drums start their roll-off to cue the fifes, and all together the Corps takes off into one of about forty different songs that they might perform during a typical parade. Thankfully, there is a rich repository of military and traditional songs that can be drawn upon.

The William Diamond Junior Fife & Drum Corps is celebrating its 10th Anniversary

The Company of Fifers and Drummers, a non-profit in Norton, Connecticut, is the national Mecca for enthusiasts of this type of music. It also publishes “The Company Book” which Fife & Drums Corps everywhere use as a Bible when searching for marching music.

Vincent Canciello bearing the William Diamond Junior Drum & Fife Corps guidon.

Heading up this year’s parade is Drum Major Simon Rubenstein, 16, a sophomore at Lexington High School. He is like the conductor of an orchestra, holding the four-foot ceremonial mace high above his head or swinging it off to the side to signal the precision team’s next move. The mace was a gift to the Junior Drum & Fife Corps. It was presented to them several years ago at the annual Tattoo & Muster by the well-known and long-established Middlesex County Volunteers Fife & Drum Corps from Medford. The veteran group had been so impressed by the Junior Corps performance (who at the time did not have a proper mace) they gave the young band one of their own in a show of respect.

Fife Sergeant Shayna Rubenstein, a 17-year-old senior at Lexington High, leads the fifes. She sets the pace at the head of the fifers at the top right hand corner of the column. Drum Sergeant Joesan Blackington, another 17-year-old senior at Lexington High School, directs the drummers from the center of the drum line. These three important positions are earned through a lot of hard work, so Simon, Shayna, and Joesan naturally take their jobs very seriously.

Marching with the Fife & Drum Corps is a little like rubbing your tummy and patting your head at the same time. Senior Fife Instructor Mark Poirier agrees but adds, “while hopping backwards on one foot.” Not only are you required to have a certain level of proficiency on your instrument, the Senior Corps is also a well-rehearsed drill team (one of the only ones in the country) that incorporates complex marching maneuvers into their performances. Even for young folks, it takes tremendous concentration to play together and manage your instrument while weaving in and out of formation.

The William Diamond Junior Fife & Drum Corps is open to boys and girls between the ages of 8 and 18. You don’t have to live in Lexington or need any musical experience to join. Mark explains, “We are giving them a musical education as well. If a kid doesn’t know how to read music we’ll teach them.” When I was there, Kirea Snell, 10, a 4th Grade student from the Harrington school was taking her first lesson on fife. Her mom waited patiently in the hall as Shayna took Kirea aside and gave her one-on-one instruction on rudimentary fife technique. Within a few minutes you could hear the familiar trill burst forth as Kirea started to get her first sounds out of the ancient instrument. I can’t describe the satisfaction and big smiles on everyone’s faces as Kirea finished up her lesson to enthusiast praises. Getting started is easy, and just takes a small $10.00 investment in a practice fife to learn the basics. Once you are able to master a few simple songs you can graduate to a wooden parade fife and start to participate in some of the marching drills. Drummers can get started with a minimum investment in a pair of sticks, a drum pad, and stand.

The program has a dedicated support staff. I was met by the Corps Clerk and “master of details” Tanya Morrisett, who gave me a quick tour and introduced me around. The Monday rehearsals are a little chaotic, but Board member Susan Rubenstein is another dynamo on the scene keeping things on schedule and getting things done. Lee Caron, the Senior Drum Instructor is a well-known percussionist and a graduate of the Boston Conservatory. He has extensive experience and has been a member of and performed with prestigious groups like The Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps 3rd US INF (Escort to the President), and The United States Army Band.

Mark Poirier is the Senior Fife Instructor. A founding member, he has been teaching fife to the Junior Corps since it started. He typically works with the youngest students. Tanya explains, “Mark has a special way of getting the kids to play. He’s extremely patient.” Mark has a simple approach to teaching fife, “I ask them all the same thing: ‘Can you count to seven? Do you know the first seven letters of the alphabet? Do you have ten fingers? Can you tap your foot?’” And in order to get an eight year old to visualize the proper aperture (the way you shape your lips when blowing across the fife; the hardest part about learning how to play), “I tell them to think about a food that they absolutely hate to eat, or a rotten piece of dog food on the tip of their tongue … it’s worked for ten years.”

For a modest $40.00/month, weekly music lessons, custom uniforms, and performance-grade instruments are provided to everyone enrolled in the program. The Junior Corps wears 1775 authentic yeoman fashions, hand sewn by Lexington seamstress Judy Crocker. The Senior Corps jackets, waistcoats, and breeches are the creations of Anita Bausk, another talented seamstress. The Corps even gets a fashion contribution from their Director, Carmin Calabrese, who besides directing rehearsals and contributing his wealth of expertise, has managed to master the art of making a tricorn hat, which makes him the go-to-guy for Revolutionary headgear.

While I was chatting with Tanya, I also got a chance to meet Bill Mix, current Captain Commanding of the Lexington Minutemen, and another one of the founders of the Junior Fife & Drum Corps. In the battle re-enactments Bill plays Captain John Parker, leader of the Lexington rebels. He gets to utter the famous line, “Don’t fire unless fired upon, but if they mean to have a war, let it begin here!” The Lexington Minutemen have been doing re-enactments and marching in the Lexington Patriot’s Day parade for as long as I can remember. A veteran of the group, Bill reminisces, “Back then (2002) we didn’t have a band, and for a parade, you have to have music to march to. There wasn’t any program in the schools, so we decided to create our own.” Bill put an ad in the paper and was initially able to recruit about fifteen students from the Lexington schools. He got a few of his fellow Minutemen involved, including Mark and current Director Carmin. Carmin had grown up in the Fife & Drum tradition and has been fifing for 60 years. Mark had also been playing fife for years in a number of area Fife & Drum Corps. Mark says besides having music to march to they wanted to “make fife and drum music the signature sound of Lexington.” They started out rehearsing at Buchman Tavern but Bill, a long-time member of the Hancock Church, persuaded the church to let them

William Diamond Junior Drum & Fife Corps at Colonial Williamsburg.

rehearse the newly formed group in the church’s back hall, where they still rehearse today. The program caught on and has been a terrific success ever since. What’s the attraction? Mark reflects, “It’s a simple thing, but a meaningful thing.” He smiles and adds, “and we get to dress in funny clothes, and go to really interesting places.”

This year, the Junior Fife & Drum Corps has also recorded their first CD, chock full of patriotic songs. The disk should be available by the 10th Anniversary Tattoo and Muster on May 5th and 6th, and it’s just part of the group’s very exciting schedule. The season is stacked with 22 events throughout Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island, including Lexington’s 300th Anniversary Opening Ceremonies on September 26th. In addition, the Corps performs at community service events like the annual Opening of the Lexington Town Meeting, Discovery Day (May 26th), the Opening of the Farmer’s Market (May 29th) and the Flag Day Ceremony (June 16th). On top of all that, this summer, the whole group has been invited to represent Lexington and attend the Fife & Drum Corps International Muster, June 28th – July 1st, in Basel, Switzerland. Fife & Drum music originated in Switzerland, so it’s a huge honor to be asked to perform.

Wow, “Lexington Invades Switzerland.” That’s a headline I never expected to see. Best of luck to the William Diamond Junior Fife & Drum Corps, and congratulations on ten years of continuing the tradition!

For more info:

Colonial Times contributor DIGNEY FIGNUS performs at Nourish Restaurant, 1727 Mass Ave, Lexington Center, Thursday, April 26, 2012, 8:00-10:00PM, NO COVER


Share this:

Fife and Drum Corps Hosts Annual Tattoo and Muster

April showers bring May flowers and the Revolutionary Revelry May Day celebration saw some of each. Rains delayed the event, but couldn’t dampen spirits. Revelers planted May Day baskets, made paper flowers and enjoyed a traditional May Pole.

En Pleine Aire enjoyed fine weather Saturday as artists and visitors met along the bike path. Artists drew inspiration from local architecture, nature and a few DPW surprises.

The Park Your Art Auction held at the Hadley DPW Building Saturday night highlighted pieces created that day. Eight works were auctioned to a lively crowd. Live jazz and refreshments rounded out the evening.

Proceeds will benefit the construction of Antony Park here in Lexington. The park will be a tribute to the two towns longtime friendship. Several years ago Antony created Place de le Lexington.

The William Diamond Junior Fife and Drum Corps celebrated its 11th Annual Tattoo and Muster on May 4 and 5. Thirty corps from all over the Northeast performed.

On Friday evening there was a short tattoo, followed by a jam session. A tattoo is a small concert featuring select fife and drum corps.

Saturday found the Corps stepping off for a parade from historic Lexington Battle Green to the muster field at Lower Hayden Fields. There visitors enjoyed a day full of music, history, and entertainment. Provincial and British re-enactors set up camp offering a view of 18th century life. Watch for the Corps first CD of traditional Fife and Drum music, 300 Years of Music from the Lexington Green.

For information about the corps and its activities, please visit their website at


Share this:

Community Center Task Force Debuts New Web Site and Survey

A Community Center for Lexington?
What Do You Think?

The Community Center Task Force wants you to help us think about what a community center could be like and how to make a concept fit Lexington. The committee has been persuaded of the value that a community center could bring to our town; now we need to know what that value looks like to you. You can do this by taking the survey that is on the Community Center Task Force website through June 30.

For many years, Lexington officials and residents have studied and considered building a new senior center and creating a teen center. Now Lexington has decided to change its focus from individualized solutions to investigating a more generalized approach of serving the needs of all of Lexington’s citizens: a community center.

What is a community center? A quick search on the internet finds these descriptions:

  • A building or group of buildings where there are classes and activities for the people who live in a community
  • A place where people from a particular community can meet for social, educational, or recreational activities

While these definitions are certainly thought-provoking, they are also bland and neutral, and necessarily so. The flavor and character of a community are missing, and so is the way each community makes its unique stamp on what it does. No general definition can possibly convey the distinct and very special ways of being … Lexington.

Last summer the Board of Selectmen appointed the Community Center Task Force to develop “…a report about the concept of a community center, including recommendations, to serve the intellectual, physical, and social needs of Seniors, other adults, teens and youth in our community.”

The task force has spent the time since last summer visiting centers in other towns and talking to the leaders of groups, departments and boards in Lexington. We have gathered data on the needs and wishes of various members of our community, and we have created one vision of what a Lexington community center could be. We have imagined that it would be a place for structured and unstructured programming, drop-in activities, citizen-directed offerings, meeting space, centralized information and more. There are so many things a community center could have, limited only by our imaginations. What will make it a true community center, though, is to define a place where seniors, teens and groups of all kinds find something for them.

Once on our website, look at the slide show, read some of the reports, or view the interim report we presented to the Board of Selectmen. But please tell us what you think, what you want, what you need.


Share this: