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Members of Williamstown's John M. 'Mike' Kennedy American Legion Post 152 provide military honors at Kennedy's gravesite on Thursday.

Williamstown's Kennedy Receives Full Military, Police Honors

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
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Members of the Williamstown Police Department stand at attention during Thursday's memorial for John M. 'Mike' Kennedy, former police chief. 
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — John M. "Mike" Kennedy was remembered Thursday as a true man of peace.
"Mother Theresa, in looking around at the world she lived in, sometimes would find a lack of peace," the Rev. John P. McDonagh told the hundreds of mourners gathered at Eastlawn Cemetery. "She would pose the question, 'If we have no peace, we have forgotten that we belong to one another.'
"Mike seemed to understand this, both as a criminal justice professional and as an advocate for veterans."
Kennedy, 75, died last month after a lifetime of service to his nation and his community.
A Missouri native who grew up in Williamstown, Kennedy served in the Army, attaining the rank of sergeant, before returning to his hometown and working as a police officer from 1970 until his retirement in 2000, a tenure that included 11 years as chief.
In more recent years, he was an active member of the American Legion Post 152, whose members voted last month to name the post in his honor, and an advocate for veterans looking to navigate a bureaucracy that sometimes seemed designed to deny them the benefits they deserved.
"[Kennedy understood], frankly, that people don't know any peace if they have suffered injustice," McDonagh said. "Mike seemed to embody this by his presence — not so much by what he said, he was not a man of many words, as we know — but, by his presence, that we belong to each other.
"People, you and I, can really do some dumb things, especially when we're hurt. Mike had an ability to sit with people, rather than arresting them, taking them to Burger King for some food and conversation. Later, listening to the hurt that veterans suffered, Mike, you made us think of how we do belong to each other."
McDonagh chose for his main reading a passage from the Book of Wisdom, which reads, in part, "The souls of the just are in the hand of God, and no torment shall touch them. They seemed, in the view of the foolish, to be dead; and their passing away was thought an affliction
and their going forth from us, utter destruction. But they are in peace."
The service on Wednesday morning included honors from both the American Legion and the Williamstown Police Department.
The Legion provided a 21-gun salute, the playing of taps and a flag-folding ceremony with presentation to the Kennedy family.
The WPD provided the End of Watch Call ceremony in recognition of Kennedy's legacy of service to the community.
The service ended with the words of the Williamstown dispatcher, who told the mourners, "Although he is gone, he will never be forgotten. Chief, we have the watch from here, sir."

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GET LOUD: A Celebration of Banned Books

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — On Sunday, Oct. 1, the Williamstown League of Women Voters in collaboration with the David and Joyce Milne Public Library and the Friends of the Milne Library are presenting Get Loud: A Celebration of Banned Books.
A group of nine authors, performers, teachers, and local individuals will read aloud selections from books currently or previously banned in US libraries and schools. Introducing them will be authors Karen Shepard and Jim Shepard, both on the English faculty of Williams College.
This performance was initiated by the Williamstown League of Women Voters with the goal of bringing together organizations and individuals with a strong interest in the importance of free speech and artistic freedom. 
The event is intended to raise awareness of the history and practice of government censorship, and to give the community an opportunity to experience firsthand the power and joy of good writing.
"One of our goals is to dramatize the importance of the books that have come under attack historically and also recently in some schools and public libraries," said League representative Jane Nicholls. "We hope bringing together an impressive group of artists will help remind us all that the freedom to write and to read is crucial to all other freedoms."
Participants selected their readings from a list supplied by Milne Library Director Pat MacLeod, which cataloged books being  banned from some school libraries and reading lists. The selections include passages from "The Bluest Eye" by Toni Morrison, "Bridge to Terabitha" by Katherine Paterson, "Ceremony" by Leslie Marmon Silko, "The Color Purple" by Alice Walker, and "Dear Martin" by Nic Stone.
Mt. Greylock Regional High School teacher Rebecca Tucker-Smith will read from "The Color Purple," and also recite excerpts from her students’ responses to the book.
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