When St. Mary’s Head of School Grace Cotter Regan presented Hector Jamieson with his honorary diploma at the school’s Veterans Day ceremony, it was a moment nearly 80 years in the making.
Jamieson, 97, would have graduated with his class in 1936 had he not left St. Mary’s after 11th grade to support his family. His parents moved to Lynn from Nova Scotia and were struggling during the height of the Great Depression. At 17, Jamieson, who was one of 11 children, got a job at General Electric as a welder, working on aircraft engines. He joined the Navy during World War II and served for three years in the South Pacific. He returned to GE in 1945 and retired in 1978.
“I’m honored,” said Jamieson. “We all deserve this day—not only me, but all of the veterans here.”
“We were thrilled to be able to give Mr. Jamieson his dream,” said Regan. “His story is a true witness of selflessness for our students. He touched our hearts when he said, ‘I have no regrets and would do it again.’”
Jamieson was joined at the school by his sister Johan MacIsaac, brother Ralph Jamieson and children Barbara Malone, Bonnie Anderson and Michael Jamieson, all of whom were St. Mary’s graduates, as was his daughter Mary Sherlock.
Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy presented Jamieson with a citation during a luncheon prior to the ceremony. He was also presented with a citation from the state.
The Veterans Day ceremony, which has become an annual event at St. Mary’s, featured vocal and dance performances by St. Mary’s students, presentations to all the veterans in attendance and a drill performance and posting of colors by the Lynn English Reserve Officers’ Training Corps.
“The American education system was founded to ensure this country has an informed and educated electorate,” said Principal Mark DiFabio. “Today we celebrate the veterans who bravely fought to ensure we have the right to vote—as many of us did Tuesday—and live as we do day in and day out.”
“It’s here in this building where I feel honored, respected and appreciated,” said Vietnam veteran Larry Donahue, who was a guest speaker. “Every veteran should experience this feeling and I thank you for that.”
The event was coordinated by the St. Mary’s Student Council, under the direction of faculty adviser Beverly Buckley.