Lynn Veterans Agent Michael Sweeney was busy toiling around City Hall Friday morning, March 21, preparing for the annual Vietnam Veterans Memorial Ceremony, which began in the lobby at 11 a.m.
It was his last official act as the city’s veterans agent for the next 11 months, and by noon Sweeney had departed the building to spend time with his family, in advance of his April 5 deployment, along with his National Guard unit, to Texas and Afghanistan.
As is typical for Sweeney, he sought to avoid the spotlight and attention over his deployment on Friday and, predictably, kept the focus on the important Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the men the ceremony honors.
Sweeney expects to be overseas for about nine months, as part of what is expected to be the last major deployment of Massachusetts Guard units to the peacekeeping mission in Afghanistan. Prior to heading overseas, Sweeney and his unit will spend about 50 days in Texas preparing for their tour of duty.
Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy, who was also on hand at Friday’s ceremony, confirmed that Sweeney’s job as Veterans Agent will be held open for him while he is away, but she did say that she expects the remaining members of the veterans department will get “some additional help” while Sweeney is away.
Longtime Veterans Department assistant Mary Cronin LoPresti and Jeffrey Hollett will continue to keep the department running while Sweeney is away.
Sweeney, who has two sons, said that it is hard to leave behind his family to go overseas, but added, “I’m not the first.”
Mayor Kennedy, who was on hand for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Ceremony, and read a proclamation, making Friday, March 21, “Vietnam Veterans Day in the City of Lynn.”