Annual Honor Program

The Garden of Peace Annual Honor Program takes place each September. The Honor Program provides a time and place to collectively remember and honor the victims of homicide whose names are added to the Garden that year, and all those memorialized in prior years. The Honor Program and the Garden itself are intended to provide a community for and of survivors, to provide support and hope, and to help de-stigmatize the experience of surviving homicide.

See below for descriptions of past Honor Programs.

To be kept informed about the next Honor Program and other Garden news, please join our email distribution list by emailing your name to We never share contact information. If you have a personal connection to a Commemorated Victim or the Garden, we would appreciate knowing that too.

Table of Contents

2023 Honor Program

The 2023 Annual Honor Program was held on September 21st. The program began with Mike and Dylan Verge performing The Garden, which Mike wrote for the dedication of the Garden 19 years ago in 2004. It was great to have the Verges back to perform in person at the Honor Program. Attorney General Andrea J. Campbell then offered some opening remarks. She said she was grateful and honored to be there. She spoke about reflecting on the importance and support of the Garden community as we remember our loved ones. She said that just by showing up, the Garden community shows one another comfort, hope, and healing. 

MOVA’s executive director Liam Lowney thanked everyone for being there, whether in person or virtually via the livestream. He echoed the Attorney General in how supportive the Garden community is by saying that that when we lean on each other, we are resilient and share in a hope for a future without violence. He also acknowledged that MOVA is committed to ensuring survivor services are available in the aftermath of violence and is proud to partner with many community providers who support survivors day in and day out. 

Dr. Fanta Atkinson, director of the Center for Homicide Bereavement at Cambridge Health Alliance, spoke about how grief and healing are not linear and do not have a timeline. She shared a fictional story of someone who after losing her son to violence and experiencing profound sadness and grief then found a path of activism. She then emphasized that it is important to remember that one person’s path is not everyone’s path, there is no right or wrong way to heal, and all the feelings you have on your journey of grief and healing are valid. She reminded us all that this community of survivors understands the depth of one another’s grief even though their experiences may differ from yours. 

There were also two survivor speakers, Shirlane Waithe and Brad Cowen. Shirlane spoke about her brother Marquis and his care and kindness for others, encouragement of unity, and contagious spirit. She shared a message of sadness and frustration but also hope. She said that what sometimes breaks us open opens the doors to new opportunities. With this in mind, she encouraged the community to share their story when they are ready because doing so promotes emotional integration and connection, which is something we all share. Brad then spoke about his daughter Amber. He shared that following Amber’s passing, he and Amber’s mom received a remarkable outpouring of support that was a testament to who Amber was. He spoke about how domestic violence is often mental and emotional abuse, and he and Amber’s mom have worked to raise awareness of it since losing Amber. He closed by reminding us that when we lose a loved one to violence, we lose control of a lot, but we do have control over how we remember our loved ones, and that gives us some power back. Following the speakers, VOICES Boston Children's Choir performed Bright Morning Stars. 

The names of 30 more victims of homicide were added to the Garden this year. Their names were read by Garden of Peace Advisory Committee members Beatrice Nessen and Danielle Bennett, MOVA’s victim services consultant Lisa McCue, and Suffolk County District Attorney Kevin Hayden. Following the Reading of the Names, VOICES Boston Children’s Choir performed Remember Me. 


View the recording of the 2023 Honor Program. 

2023 Garden of Peace Program Book 2023 Honor Program Book

Names added to the Garden in 2023 GoP Engraved List of Names 2023

2022 Honor Program

After two years of virtual commemorations, we were glad to be able to again gather together on in the Garden of Peace for the 2022 Annual Honor Program, which was held September 22nd. Despite it raining all day, the sun came out just in time for the start of the Honor Program. 28 more victims of homicide were honored during this year’s Honor Program, and their names were added to the Garden. Additionally, the 20 victims of homicide honored during the 2020 virtual Honor Program and the 22 victims of homicide honored during the 2021 virtual Honor Program were again honored during this in-person ceremony, and all their names were also added to the Garden. The names of the 2020, 2021, and 2022 Commemorated Victims were the first names to be engraved as part of the expansion of the Garden of Peace.

The ceremony began with a welcome song performed by the VOICES Boston Children's Choir. Then, Attorney General Maura Healey welcomed everyone to the Honor Program. She acknowledged the many challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and that the Garden community has not be able to gather in person for a few years. She commended the resiliency of the Garden community because the community always stands together, and does so especially during difficult times. She reminded us all that we always find a way to be there for each other, regardless of circumstances. MOVA’s Executive Director Liam Lowney thanked everyone for being there and expressed how wonderful it is to be back together again in the Garden. He spoke about how behind every name in the Garden, there is a story and someone we love and care for. Liam also said that after two and a half years, MOVA and the Garden of Peace Advisory Committee is grateful to share that the construction to expand the engraving capacity in the Garden is complete.

A row of Plaques in the Garden of Peace

Chaplain Clementina Chery, known to many as Tina, shared how the Garden and Honor Program bring her mixed emotions. While she is glad the space is here for the community, she is also sad there is a need for the space. She acknowledged that as we deal with grief, sadness, pain, and sorrow for the loss of our loved ones, at the same time, we deal with hope, joy, and love because who our loved ones are. She reminded the Garden community that our loved ones are here with us, and this unites us. As Tina said, “Violence knows no color, no class, no culture, and no community.” Tina also shared a little about who her son Louis Brown is, whom she founded the Louis D. Brown Peace Institute in honor of. She explained that there are seven words that have guided her on her journey of healing: love, unity, faith, hope, courage, justice, and forgiveness. As she concluded her remarks, she asked the attendees to think about what hope means to them, and to remember that there is hope as they honor their loved ones.

Jody Marchand spoke about her journey of grief and healing following the loss of her daughter Olivia, whose death was the result of domestic violence. She echoed some of what Tina said about how we carry our loved ones with us. She shared anecdotes of times she knows Olivia has been there with her, providing hope and positivity for the Garden community to carry with them. Jody has turned her pain into purpose by founding Live for Liv in memory of her daughter.

Following Tina and Jody’s remarks, VOICES Boston Children’s Choir performed Wanting Memories by Ysaye Barnwell. Then, the names added to the Garden in 2020, 2021, and 2022 were read by some of the Garden of Peace Advisory Committee, Liam, and MOVA’s director of victim services, Jessie Aquino. After the Reading of the Names, there was another performance by VOICES Boston Children’s Choir, of Goin’ Home by Paul Langford.

Due to the weather, Mike and Dylan Verge were unable to attend and perform at this year’s Honor Program. In lieu of their live performance of The Garden, at the close of the program, the recording of The Garden was played.

View the recording of the livestream of the 2022 Honor Program.

View the walkthrough video of the Garden of Peace

2022 Garden of Peace Program Book

Names added to the Garden in 2022

2021 Honor Program

Due to the continued public health risks of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 Annual Honor Program was again held virtually. This year’s Honor Program was held on Thursday, September 30th. 22 victims of homicide were honored this year, and their names will be added to the Garden. Their names will be among the first names to be engraved as part of the expansion of the Garden of Peace.

The program began with a musical performance of We Will Rise Up Together by Boston City Singers Vocalise and VOICES Boston Children’s Choir. Attorney General Maura Healey then opened the program by reminding us all that the Garden community is strong and resilient. She said that regardless of the circumstances, this evening is about standing with one another and supporting each other, so once again, the Garden community has come together to listen to and lean on each other through difficult times. MOVA’s Executive Director Liam Lowney welcomed everyone and noted that while we are all sitting in separate spaces tonight, the Garden community has still joined together with a shared understanding of the loss of a loved one to homicide and a shared commitment to end violence. Liam reminded everyone that they are never alone because, as we can see tonight, we are all part of an amazing community of survivors.

Liam also provided an update an update on the increased engraving capacity in the Garden of Peace. As previously announced, in late 2019, the Massachusetts Legislature invested $500,000 into the Garden of Peace Trust Fund for the specific purpose of increasing the Garden’s capacity for engraving. Last year, MOVA worked with a with a landscape architect to create a plan and design that will honor those whose names will be added to the Garden in coming years, and at the same time will be in keeping with the Garden’s original design and intent. Following the approval of the proposed design, the construction project went out to bid this spring in an effort to secure contractors, a process MOVA is required to do as a state agency. During this process, MOVA learned that there is a shortage of availability from contractors, as well as a shortage of supplies and materials in the metal fabrication industry due to the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Materials necessary to complete the construction project are backed up for 10-12 weeks. Unfortunately, this means that the construction will not begin until those materials are made available to us and engravings will not be made until next year in advance of the 2022 Honor Program. MOVA appreciates the ongoing patience from the Garden community as we navigate the Garden enhancements and will continue to provide updates on this process.

This year’s first speaker was James E. Young, Distinguished University Professor Emeritus at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Founding Director of the Institute for Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies at the university. Professor Young shared his expertise on memory and memorialization and reflected on some of the processes of creating public memorials that he has been a part of. He spoke about memorialization in communities and the importance of coming together and building a community where we can honor our loved ones.

This year’s survivor speaker was Lisa Robinson, mother of Aja Dawn Robinson. Lisa spoke about turning pain into purpose. She said that although she will forever be healing, she feels thankful to be surrounded by the support of the community of people who share the same horrific experience with her. As part of her healing journey, Lisa shares Aja’s story, does good deeds in the community, and has become a voice against violence.

Some of the Garden of Peace Advisory Committee members read the 22 names being added to the Garden this year and the 20 names added to the Garden last year from inside the Garden of Peace. Following the Reading of the Names, the Honor Program concluded with a recorded performance of The Garden by Mike Verge, Dylan Verge, Vance Spina, Abigail Zachko, and Kayla Silverman. Watch this music video of The Garden.

View the recording of the 2021 Honor Program.

2021 Garden of Peace Program of Events

Names added to the Garden in 2021

2020 Honor Program

Because of COVID-19, the 2020 Garden of Peace Annual Honor Program on September 24th was held virtually. We honored 20 victims of homicide whose names will be added to the Garden this year and remembered all those already part of the Garden community. The program opened with a recorded performance of The Garden by Mike and Dylan Verge, Anthony DiGiovanni, and Vance Spina. 

Attorney General Maura Healey welcomed the Garden community and reminded us that while we could not gather in person this year, our commitment remains to remember loved ones, support survivors, and work to end violence. Attorney General Healey affirmed that now more than ever, we need to come together to stand up to senseless violence happening across the Commonwealth and across the country.

MOVA’s Executive Director Liam Lowney spoke of how each year at the Honor Program he witnesses and experiences the unique strength and support of the Garden community. Liam explained that MOVA and the Garden Advisory Committee have been working with a landscape architect on plans and designs for the Garden to accommodate additional names in the years ahead. This is made possible by a generous appropriation from the Massachusetts state legislature.   

Both the keynote and survivor speakers were members of the Garden community. Keynote Speaker Kim Odom, mother of Steven Odom, is an extraordinary advocate and activist for violence prevention and intervention. Kim spoke about times of reflection after losing a loved one and how these times can inspire hope and be uplifting. She encouraged the Garden community to let their loved ones’ memories and legacies be a lighthouse of hope…to allow hope to turn pain and anger into power and action.

Michael Browder, uncle of Raheem and Shaquille Browder, was this year’s survivor speaker. Michael spoke movingly about the pain of losing loved ones to violence, but also about the valuable connections and support of the Garden community and the many agencies and programs supporting survivors. 

The names of the 20 victims commemorated this year were read aloud by members of the Garden of Peace Advisory Committee. The Honor Program closed with another musical performance by the Verges. Here’s to safely gathering in the Garden for the 2021 Honor Program.

View the recording of the 2020 Honor Program.

2020 Garden of Peace Program of Events

Names added to the Garden in 2020

2019 Honor Program

2019 Honor Program
2019 Honor Program
Photos by Christine Lavoie

On the beautiful autumn evening of September 19th, MOVA was privileged to host the annual Honor Program. As is custom, Mike and Dylan Verge opened the program with Mike’s original composition The Garden, composed and recorded for the Garden of Peace dedication in 2004. The Verges were joined in the chorus by the youth of Boston City Singers, a group whose predecessors also performed at the 2004 dedication.

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey welcomed the Garden community with a reminder of why all were gathered: to remember loved ones lost to violence, to de-stigmatize the experience of survivors, and to re-commit to ending violence. AG Healey introduced the new Garden of Peace Advisory Committee: Christine Abrams, survivor and former Garden of Peace Board member; Danielle Bennett, survivor and service provider; Chris Dempsey, survivor; Lisa McCue, survivor and service provider; and Beatrice Nessen, former Garden of Peace Board member. Later, for Reading of the Names, the Advisory Committee read aloud the 34 victims’ names engraved in the Garden this year.  

MOVA Executive Director Liam Lowney noted the diversity of the Garden community with respect to background, geography, victim/survivor experience, and time elapsed since loss. And yet, there’s the significant shared experience of tragic loss to violence. Liam spoke of MOVA’s privilege to be newly entrusted with the Garden’s stewardship and underscored MOVA’s commitment to seek out, listen to, and advocate for victims’ and survivors’ voices to be heard. The Keynote Speaker was Rev. Liz Walker, senior pastor of the 133-year-old Roxbury Presbyterian Church, home to the Cory Johnson Trauma Program for Post-Traumatic Healing. Rev. Walker was moving and inspiring, reminding the Garden community we’re not alone, and encouraging us to find hope in one another and in community.

Advisory Committee member and Survivor Speaker Lisa McCue shared her grace in heartbreak with words of remembrance for her brother Kevin, “the protector.” She described her family’s experiences, which are shared by so many others, in the aftermath of murder and in the two decades since, including for Lisa, a career helping victims of crime. Boston City Singers closed the program on an uplifting note, with three spirited South African folk songs about Peace.

2019 Garden of Peace Program Book

2019 Garden of Peace Program of Events

Names added to the Garden in 2019

2018 Honor Program

Josh Moulton speaking at the 2018 Honor Program
Engraved stones in the Garden with flowers
Photos by Mike Diskin

On September 20th, 2018, the annual honor program was held at the Garden of Peace to honor the memories of the victims whose names are engraved in the Garden. We were privileged to be joined by hundreds of family members, friends, and other supporters.

Founding Garden of Peace Board Member Evelyn Tobin welcomed all in attendance. Attorney General Maura Healey provided opening remarks. Keynote Speaker Josh Moulton spoke eloquently of his sister, Rebecca, and of loss and then action in the aftermath of violence. We heard the voice of another survivor Danielle Bennett, who spoke about her cousin Sharrice and about their family’s experience following their loss of Sharrice to homicide. Through their words, both Josh and Danielle conveyed hope and strength and dignity.

As is the custom, the names of the 47 victims added to the Garden since the last honor program were read aloud. Their families and friends, and those of many others whose names are in the Garden, lit candles in memory of their loved ones and offered support to one another.  

We were pleased to welcome back Mike and Dylan Verge, who performed Mike’s original composition, The Garden. Throughout the program and evening, Riverview Chamber Players performed music intended to promote healing.

2018 Garden of Peace Program Book

Names added to the Garden in 2018

2017 Honor Program

On September 14, 2017, again, hundreds gathered at the Garden to honor the memory of the 38 new loved ones added to the Garden and the many others who we have lost to homicide. During this year’s program, we were fortunate to have House Speaker Robert DeLeo emcee our event. We also heard from Liam Lowney, executive director of the Massachusetts Office of Victim Assistance, and Survivor Speaker Deborah JacQuie Cairo-Williams, mother of Charisse Monique Carter. The resounding theme that was eloquently spoken by each was the search for solace, the human capacity to heal and to learn how to live a new normal, and the strength needed to shape your loved ones’ legacies.

This year, we also had exciting news to share about the future and long-term sustainability of the Garden.  As you know, the Garden was built and is maintained by the work of a dedicated group of volunteers with the indispensable help of our faithful donors. The Garden Board and founders have, over the past year, had serious discussions about our ability to sustain this work over the long-term, as we are an all-volunteer organization with no staff. In order to ensure that the Garden continues to grow and meet the needs of our family of survivors, we concluded that we needed to find a home for it that provides that long-term sustainability. We initiated discussions with the Massachusetts Office for Victim Assistance (MOVA) and found that their mission and that of the Garden are a perfect match. MOVA is an independent state agency governed by a board chaired by the Massachusetts Attorney General and whose members include two District Attorneys and two public (victim) members.

As a result of these discussions, a bill (H2306) was filed in the legislature that would:

  • Transfer administration of the Garden of Peace to MOVA;
  • Create an advisory committee to ensure that the mission of the Garden is carried out;
  • Create a trust fund seeded with the existing reserves of the Garden and restricted to the maintenance and growth of the Garden.

These three elements of the legislation give us the comfort of knowing that the Garden will live on past our lifetimes; that survivors will continue to have a voice in the administration of the Garden; and that those of you who have made this all possible with your financial support can continue to make contributions in the name of your loved ones.

As these discussions continue and the bill continues to make its way through the legislative process, we ask you to please contact your state legislators to ask them to communicate their support for H2306 to the Chairs of the Joint Committee on the Judiciary – Senator William Brownsberger and Representative Claire Cronin. The bill has been heard by the Committee and awaits a favorable report to move on through the process. To locate your legislators:

As always, we were warmed by all of those that attended the event and we continue to be inspired by all of you each day. Thank you for your continued support of the Garden and your dedication to its long-term sustainability.

Names added to the Garden in 2017

2016 Honor Program

2016 Honor Program

On September 15, 2016, at the annual Honor Program, hundreds of friends and family members gathered for a somber remembrance as 39 names were added to the Garden of Peace, A Memorial to Homicide Victims in Massachusetts.

"Behind every name in the Garden is a loved one, who has been taken from us too soon due to senseless violence," said Katia Santiago-Taylor, Board Chair.  "It is important that we honor the lives they lived - instead of only remembering their tragic deaths. By uniting as community and sharing our loved ones with each other, we ask the world to remember their legacy as we work together toward creating peace."

The keynote address was given by Ed Davis, former Boston Police Commissioner and Lowell Police Superintendent.  Attorney General Maura Healey served as Master of Ceremonies. Courtney Grey Mark, a Trainer of Trainers of Psychological First Aid with specialty in addressing disaster behavioral health in underserved communities, spoke about the impact of violence on families, friends, first responders, and communities.

Among the readers of the 39 names, two members of the K9 First Responders were in attendance. Brad Cole, executive director, with his dog/partner Spartacus, and Rebecca Coburn, CPP, CPHA, Boston area coordinator, with her dog/partner Bernie. Cole established the K9 First Responders after he and Spartacus responded to the Sandy Hook Shootings. Taishano Lewis, a Boston EMT and daughter of a police officer, was also one of the readers.  She was inspired to become a first responder after an EMT saved her brother who was shot in a drive by.

Names added to the Garden in 2016

2015 Honor Program

On Thursday evening, September 17, 2015, twenty-four new names of homicide victims were added to Boston’s Garden of Peace Memorial. 

The Garden of Peace is a unique memorial located in the heart of Boston. It was dedicated in 2004 as a permanent and living testament to the need for eliminating violence.

There are now approximately 900 names listed in the Garden of Peace. 

We were honored to have Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey serve as Master of Ceremonies.

Our Keynote Speaker was Nancy Carlsson-Paige, Ed.D, Professor Emerita at Lesley University. Nancy is the author of five books and numerous op-ed on media and technology, conflict resolution, peaceable classrooms, and education reform.

Wil Darcangelo and the Tribe performed the original song, “Rough Stones Smooth,” which was composed in 2013 in honor of the Garden of Peace. For the lyrics and to see a performance of “Rough Stones Smooth” from the 2013 Honor Program, click here.

The program featured two Survivor Speakers, Mary Dunne, mother of Lauren Dunne Astley, and Yoko Kato, board member and mother of Sherry Morton and grandmother of Cedric Morton.

The Garden of Peace Honor Program is an emotional release for many attending families. Often, they gather in the Garden’s dry riverbed before the ceremony and remember their loved ones with flowers, candles, and pictures.

The Honor Program concludes each year with the reading of the names of each of the homicide victims who are being added to the Garden, followed by a Potluck Supper Reception.

Another beautiful tribute to those we honor.

Thank you to all who made this night possible, as we remember those that we lost to violence.

Names added to the Garden in 2015

2014 Honor Program

 “A simple stone represented and acknowledged a life was lost, a life that had meaning to family, friends, and countless others.” 
--Annie Cox, mother of Dana Cox

On September 18, 2014, as the fading light of a bright, busy Thursday gave way to the soft advance of evening, hundreds gathered in Boston’s Garden of Peace to honor the memory of 41 people lost to homicide.

This year’s event marked the Garden’s 10th Honor Program since the Memorial to Homicide Victims was first established. There are now more than 900 names engraved on stones in the Garden’s dry riverbed, and along the walls surrounding it.

Boston Police Officer Annie Cox lost her son to homicide in 1990. In 2004, the name of Dana Cox was among the first etched onto a Garden of Peace stone. “I felt special and supported, like someone understood,” Annie Cox remembered at this year’s Honor Program.

Annie Cox is now a Garden of Peace Board Member, and at this year’s Honor Program, she acknowledged the pain of other survivors, urging them to not give into grief.

“There is a clearing in the forest, “ said Annie Cox. “And it is breathtaking.”

Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, a long time friend of the Garden, emceed this year’s Honor Program. As a prosecutor and Middlesex County District Attorney, Martha Coakley spent much of her career standing up for homicide victims and their families. 

“It would be nice not to have to add new stones to this wonderful Garden,” Coakley said. “I have come to learn that the Garden is not just a place, it’s an idea. It’s an idea about what we can do in our pain, and in our grief, to find some resilience and find some strength.”

This year’s Keynote Speaker was Will Morales, executive director of the Boston YMCA Achievers and the Egleston Square Youth Center. Will’s work places him in direct contact with young people who live with violence all around them. But it is Will’s life story that gives Will the authority to teach our youth to reject violence. 

At this year’s Garden of Peace Honors Program, Will Morales recalled how violence was ever present as he grew up in Brooklyn, New York. Morales remembered how he was just eight years old when his uncle was shot to death. And he recalled domestic violence between his mother and father. 

When he was 10 years old, Will Morales and his family moved to Boston for a chance at a better life, but he soon found himself on the wrong end of the law. In 1990, Will Morales said he was sitting in a jail cell when he learned that his own brother was killed in a shootout with Boston Police. 

“Violence felt too normal to me,” Morales said. “And it shouldn’t.”

Today, Will Morales is a changed man. He is urging today’s young people to reject violence. Will’s mission with the Boston YMCA Achievers and the Egleston Square Youth Teen Center mirrors the mission of the Garden of Peace.

“I didn’t come here to tell you how to grieve, or how to cope, each of you is doing that in your own way,” Morales said. “What I come here to tell you is: you are not alone. You are in a community that is here to support you and be with you. But most importantly, this is your healing community.”

When darkness finally fell, and the lyrics of Wil Darcangelo’s specially written song, “Rough Stones Smooth,” filled the air, the flicker of dozens of tea lights illuminated the Garden. Tears flowed. Survivors clung to each other. For the lyrics and to see a performance of “Rough Stones Smooth” from the 2013 Honor Program, click here.

And the Garden of Peace quietly spoke it solemn message. Violence is not the answer.

Names added to the Garden in 2014

NECN Segment about 2014 Honor Program

2013 Honor Program

2013 Honor Program
2013 Honor Program
2013 Honor Program
2013 Honor Program
Photos by Ilene Perlman

On Thursday, September 19th, hundreds of family members, friends, and community supporters gathered at the 9th Annual Garden of Peace Honor Program on Beacon Hill to honor the 66 homicide victims whose names were added to the Massachusetts memorial this year. Thanks to the generous support of Suffolk University, the fountain at the base of the “Ibis Ascending” sculpture was completed and turned on for the first time.

Attorney General Martha Coakley served as emcee, and Robert Lewis, Jr., president & founder of both The BASE and the Boston Astros, offered the keynote address. Two survivors shared their stories: Bristol County District Attorney’s Office Victim Witness Advocate Michael Jo Santos, brother of homicide victim, and Garden of Peace Board Member Jude Vajda, daughter of homicide victim. They both talked about how these deaths affected and continue to have an impact on their lives. “Wil Darcangelo & The Tribe,” an independent, student-run, adult-mentored, social enterprise rock band in Fitchburg, MA, performed "Rough Stones," written for the occasion by Wil Darcangelo. 

As each name was read, families and friends lit candles and then proceeded to see the names of their loved ones engraved on the walls.

Special thanks to Suffolk University News reporter Ashley Cullinane for sharing the story she produced covering the ceremony for the Suffolk Journal. Click here to view.

Names added to the Garden in 2013

Boston Herald article about 2013 Honor Program

Sentinel & Enterprise article about 2013 Honor Program


2012 Honor Program

2012 Honor Program
2012 Honor Program
Photos by Ilene Perlman

“Show me where your children are,” a woman said in a low, gentle voice to the woman beside her. 

The pair moved down the curved path of Massachusetts’ Garden of Peace Memorial, passing by hundreds of stones, round and smooth and engraved with the names of murder victims.

Mari Adams, 70, paused and pointed out two stones to her companion, one tucked in just above the other: Robin Van Rader Adams, April 18, 1962 – Nov. 9, 1987. And just below: Michal Van  Rader Adams, April 16, 1963 – May 1, 1994.  Looking at the stones, in a voice still grasping to comprehend such loss, she said, “They were born just a year and two days apart.”

It was September 20th, a cool crisp autumn afternoon turning to evening on the Garden’s eighth annual public ceremony. The annual Honor Program marks the one time a year hundreds of relatives and friends gather at the Garden to remember together as part of a community bound by grief and committed to stopping the violence that so abruptly ended the lives of those they loved.

Families and friends waved hellos to one another, hugged, and placed flowers, candles, and the occasional photo on the stones. Some wore T-shirts bearing photos of the faces of their loved ones with words like “Gone but not Forgotten.”

“We come here from different backgrounds and perspectives … reminded of the horrible consequences of violence here in our communities,” said Attorney General Martha Coakley in an address to the overflowing crowd.

Keynote Speaker Rev. Jeffrey Brown, director of the Boston TenPoint Coalition, called upon people to reach out to their neighbors to help combat violence.  

He invoked the Biblical “Good Samaritan” story and asked those assembled, “How can we extend the hand of care and love to people we don’t know?”

“We must pledge to do what we can … to end the dominance of violence in our communities,” said Brown.

He cited Rodney King who famously said, “Can’t we just get along?”

 Brown said, “The challenge for the 21st century are those words.”  

In the sprawling brick plaza adjacent to the Garden, there were not enough chairs in the dozens of rows for everyone who had come, numbers that rose as the evening went on. There were fathers cradling baby sons, sisters holding hands. A mother from Lowell named Alice Muscowitz, her face wet with tears and a gold heart hanging on a necklace imprinted with a photo of her daughter, murdered in 2004.

Another mother, Evelyn Tobin, whose daughter Kathleen Dempsy was stabbed and murdered in her home in 1992, said during her remarks that after 20 years her daughter’s murderer had recently been identified, charged with the crime, and sentenced. In a message to those whose loved one’s killers are still at large, she urged them not to give up and reminded them that there were those in the justice system who care and are devoted to helping.

Those who attend the ceremony every year are members, as they joke darkly among themselves, of “a club no one wants to join.”

Still, there is a solace among being among those who understand one another’s pain.

“How fortunate we are to have each other and to come together and comfort each other,” Tobin told the audience.

Bob Curley, who has become a spokesman for the victim community in Massachusetts, also spoke.

His son Jeffrey was just ten years old in 1997 when two pedophiles kidnapped him, suffocated him with gasoline soaked rags, and then molested his dead body before dumping him in a river in Maine.

“That’s just one story” of those remembered in the garden memorial, he said, “from presidents to little kids from East Cambridge.”

“There is no closure for people like us. It will always be part of your life wherever we go. You will be in social functions and people will avoid you because they don’t know what to say,” said Curley.

“The common thread that binds us all is a pain with anger,” said Curley. “Everyone will heal at their own pace, in their own way.”

He closed with advice: “It’s bad enough that someone killed Jeffrey, that someone killed your loved one. Don’t let them kill you … take care of yourselves. “

Eight volunteers solemnly read the 52 new names that had been inscribed in the stones and nearby walls during the past year adding to a total of nearly 800.

After the ceremony people strolled through the garden. Dusk had turned to night. And the hundreds of flickering tea lights on the stones and nearby walls flickered like stars. The Garden was also adorned with 1000 hand-folded paper origami cranes. An ancient Japanese legend promises that anyone who folds a thousand origami cranes will be granted a wish by a crane, such as long life or recovery from illness or injury. The cranes are made possible by a former board member in honor of her daughter Anne Borghesani.

 A tall woman named Davette Roundtree, 45, walked with a purposeful stride looking at the monument.  Growing up and living still today in Dorchester, homicide was no stranger.  Her eyes scanned the names for familiar names of cousins, neighbors, friends, and the children of friends who had been murdered.

By the end of the evening she reported her final count: ten. Ten people she knew or had ties to, including the most recent murder of a young, upbeat classmate named Diane Mercado, 33, who was killed by her boyfriend last September.

She took heart in the scene around her.

“It’s peaceful too. Strangers are talking to each other. In today’s society that does not happen often,” said Roundtree. “I think it’s a good place to be.”

To view the photo gallery, click here.

Names added to the Garden in 2012

2011 Honor Program

“Rather than bearing the burden alone, the survivors’ loss is represented and cared for in the Garden of Peace. And the burden is shared by all of us.”
--Toni Troop, 2012 Garden of Peace Board Chair

On September 15, 2011, under skies threatening rain, hundreds proudly gathered on an open plaza, remembering and honoring the names of 52 homicide victims added to Boston’s Garden of Peace Memorial. The annual ceremony, held for the seventh consecutive year, makes good on the Garden’s promise to share the burden of loss now etched 743 times.

Dr. Earl Grollman, the nationally recognized crisis intervention counselor, author, long time Rabbi at Belmont’s Temple Beth el Center, and educator, provided the evening’s keynote address. His words were simple, direct, and profound. “Death ends a life. Death doesn’t end a relationship. Death isn’t only about the people who died. Death is about the people who are left behind,” Dr. Grollman said.

Dr. Grollman’s work has taken him to scenes of unimaginable mass grief, places like Oklahoma City and Columbine. He has counseled survivors in large groups and one on one. He has witnessed the anguish caused by murder in all of its forms. Yet he told his audience, “You are my rabbis, my teachers.” He added, “There is no such thing as closure. That’s for mortgages. We don’t get over it. Ever.”

This Garden of Peace Honor Program was held almost exactly ten years after the 9/11 terror attacks. The two planes used to attack New York City’s World Trade Center were hijacked after taking off from Boston’s Logan International Airport.

Victims of the 9/11 attacks are represented in the Garden of Peace. One of them is Anna Williams Allison. Anna, 48, was a passenger on Flight 11, headed to Los Angeles for a business meeting. Her husband, Blake Allison drove Anna to Logan that morning. At the Garden of Peace, Blake remembered his wife’s love for life, her “unrestrained laugh,” and her boundless optimism.

Blake Allison expressed the hope that in death, Anna’s life would continue to lead the way out of the despair of sadness. “If we chose to embrace life and move onward by following her example, then she will always be with us. And we will have the possibility of not staying in, but travelling beyond, this tragic time,” Blake Allison said.

It is a true and sad fact that the scars created by homicide never heal. Survivors are permanently changed. Carl Schiller discovered that on the morning of Friday, January 13, 2006, when his beloved older brother, his best friend, Edward Schiller was shot to death in his car as he arrived for work in Newton, Massachusetts.

Carl Schiller described Edward as his life compass, and on that sad day, in one brutal act, Carl’s compass was stolen. In 2008 and 2009, two men were convicted for Edward Schiller’s murder. For Carl Schiller, a husband and father of three young children, the pain of his brother’s murder is never far. But Carl Schiller has taken that pain and created a living memorial for his slain brother. After Edward’s death, Carl left his well paying job, went back to school to study criminal justice, and now works for the Middlesex County District Attorney’s Office, the same office that prosecuted his brother’s killers.

Edward Schiller’s name is inscribed in the Garden of Peace. Carl Schiller said he hopes the Garden’s message will never be forgotten. “The Garden of Peace will ensure that generations to come will see the evidence of the lives stolen. And maybe, society will realize how senseless, how unnecessary these deaths were. And maybe, we’ll evolve beyond killing each other as a solution to our problems,” Schiller said.

As the afternoon light waned and the shadows cast by the buildings surrounding the Garden of Peace grew, candles lit by the families and friends of those left behind illuminated the darkness.  People wept. They prayed. They remembered.

Each name in the Garden of Peace honors a life. And each name memorializes the grief caused by homicide.  As the tiny candles flickered against the night, the words of Dr. Earl Grollman provided lasting comfort.

 “Where there is loss, there is grief.  Grief is an emotion; it is not a disease. Grief is nature’s way of healing a broken heart. Grief is love not ever, ever ready to say goodbye,” Dr. Grollman remarked.

And in the Garden of Peace, that burden of grief is a burden shared.

2011 Garden of Peace Program Book

Names added to the Garden in 2011

2010 Honor Program

2010 Honor Program
2010 Honor Program
Candles on engraved stone
Photos by Randy Frye

On Thursday, September 17, 2010, at the annual Garden of Peace Honor Program, the flickering beacon of hundreds of tealight candles once again broke through the darkness of sadness, pain, and unbearable grief, as 36 new stones bearing the names of homicide victims were added to the Garden's dry riverbed.

The somber and moving ceremony, held despite skies that threatened rain, provided solace to each of the 36 families forever scarred by homicide. And it reminded us all that violence can strike any of us, at any time, anywhere.

Attorney General Martha Coakley served as Master of Ceremonies. Before the reading of the names, two survivors shared the story of their loved ones' lives, and the Keynote Speaker rallied everyone to action. Mike Verge along with his son Dylan and the Boston Catholic Choir shared their music and calls for peace.

Christine Colwell, mother of murder victim Andrew Christopher Colwell, spoke of a universal sense of loss as she remembered her son.

"Andrew was one of the kindest, most thoughtful people I knew, and I was so proud to call him my son.  I will forever miss his closeness, his hugs, his sense of humor, his compassion towards others and most of all, that smile," said Colwell.

Andrew Christopher Colwell was murdered on July 7, 2008, six weeks before he was scheduled to begin studies at the University of New Hampshire.

"I have learned that sometimes strength comes through weakness, and that to stand, sometimes your must first lean," said Colwell of her struggles.

Christine Colwell is not only learning to stand, she is finding tremendous strength; she is waging a fight to help other victims of violence. Colwell is supporting state legislation designed to exempt victims of violent crime from jury duty. It is her way to wring something positive out of an unspeakable personal tragedy.

She is not alone.

Alvin Notice, father of murder victim Tiana Angelique Notice, described how his daughter worked with police and the courts to protect herself from a jealous boyfriend's rage.  And he told of how, just a week before Tiana's murder, he himself tried to help as the violence escalated.

"On February 7, 2009, I received a call from Tiana stating that the four tires to her car were slashed. I went to her apartment and I set up a camera system. That system later caught some of Tiana's murder on tape," Notice recalled.

Tiana Angelique Notice was murdered one week later, on February 14, 2009. Tiana was just one semester shy of completing her Master's Degree at the University of Hartford.

Alvin Notice is keeping his daughter's memory alive by establishing the Tiana Angelique Notice Foundation, a victim's rights organization designed to break the cycle of domestic violence and push for reforms to prevent domestic violence homicides. The Foundation's motto: "Break the Silence, Stop Domestic Violence."

Teresa Harvey-Jackson, principal of Dorchester's John Marshall School delivered the evening's keynote address. Her school is located in the heart of a neighborhood where gang warfare and street violence rage just outside school grounds.

"I know that some of the victims were involved in bad things. Some might say, you reap what you sow. For my staff and me, whether they are the victims or the perpetrators, it has the same result. We grieve the child we remember, the lost potential. We knew them when they were full of hopes and dreams. And yet, these will never be realized. We wonder what could have been done to change the outcome," said Harvey-Jackson.

As the speaking portion of the Honor Program ended, families huddled together along the Garden's winding path. Candles threw slices of light onto the stones, and onto photos and floral bouquets gently rocking in the September night breeze.

Some people silently wept, some prayed, some spoke to the familiar faces they can no longer see. And some joined Teresa Harvey-Jackson wondering how the past could have been changed, and of the work ahead, the work to change tomorrow.

Click here for a photo gallery of the 2010 Honor Program. (Photos compliments of Randy Frye)

Special thanks to all of the individuals, organizations, and businesses that helped make this evening possible including

  • Archdiocese of Boston Black Catholic Choir
  • Betsy Gold Design
  • Boston Salads
  • CB Richard Ellis/ New England
  • Charles River Movers
  • Conventures
  • Deloitte
  • Randy Frye Photography
  • Massachusetts Office of Victim Assistance
  • Metro Catering
  • Kevin Nolan
  • Office of Attorney General Martha Coakley
  • Office of District Attorney Gerard T. Leone, Jr.
  • Peterson Party Center, Inc.
  • Smart Source
  • Standard Modern
  • Suffolk University
  • Tiana Angelique Notice Memorial Foundation
  • Mike Verge
  • All who contributed to the Potluck Community Supper

Honor Program Committee

  • Leah Green, Co-Chair
  • Diane MacDonald, Co-Chair
  • Betty Borghesani
  • Erin Gaffney
  • Liam Lowney
  • Amy Maki
  • Jane Maki
  • Evelyn Tobin
  • Toni Troop
  • Liz Shaw
  • Bob Ward
  • Corey Welford

Names added to the Garden in 2010

2009 Honor Program

2008 Honor Program

Hope & Remembrance: 4th Annual Honor Program

The Fourth Annual Program to Honor Homicide Victims

On September 18, 2008, hundreds of family members, friends and concerned community members participated in the 4th annual Honor Program at the the Garden of Peace. Lt. Governor Timothy Murray gave the keynote address followed by Les Gosule and Heidi Gosule, father and sister of Melissa Gosule, Melissa Gauthier, daughter of Paul Gauthier, and Kim Odom, mother of Steven P. Odom, who spoke about their loved ones whose names are in the Garden.

The ceremony began with Mike Verge singing the song he wrote for "The Garden." The PALS Children’s Chorus whose voices brought so much to the ceremony. In a moving tribute, the program ended with the reading of the forty-six new names who were commemorated that evening.

Special thanks to...
Everyone who helped the Honor Program run so smoothly - from the flowers to the pot luck reception.
Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray
Attorney General Martha Coakley
A. D. Handy
Betsy Gold Design
CB Richard Ellis/ New England (Shawn Carroll)
Charles River Movers
Conventures (Dusty Rhodes)
Deloitte, LLP
Massachusetts Office of Victim Assistance
PALS Children’s Chorus
Peterson Party Center, Inc.
Standard Modern
Erin Gaffney
Cariann Harsh
Mike Verge
Thomas Clark
All who contributed to the Potluck Community Supper

The Readers
Gerard T. Leone, Middlesex County District Attorney
Sheridan Haines, Executive Director Governor’s Council to Address Sexual Domestic Violence
Ken Dempsey, brother of Kathleen Mary Dempsey
Beatrice Nessen, Founding member of Garden of Peace
Joe Early, Worcester County District Attorney 
Christopher Gauthier, son of Paul Gauthier 
Diane Coffey, Director, Victim Services Unit, Massachusetts Parole Board
Phyllis Lopes, Parent of Cecil M. Lopes, III

Names added to the Garden in 2008

Boston Globe article about 2008 Honor Program

Boston Metro Article about 2008 Honor Program

2007 Honor Program

2006 Honor Program

2005 Honor Program

2004 Garden of Peace Dedication

Contact   for Annual Honor Program


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