A Part of America Died
"Somebody killed a policeman today, and part of America died. A piece of our country he swore to protect will be buried with him at his side.
The suspect that killed him will stand up in court, with counsel demanding his rights. While a young widowed mother must work for her kids, and spend many long, lonely nights.
The beat that he walked was a battlefield too, just as if he'd gone off to war. Though the flag of our nation won't fly at half mast, to his name they will add a gold star.
Yes, somebody killed a policeman today, in your hometown or in mine. While we slept in comfort behind locked doors, a cop put his life on the line.
Now his ghost walks a beat on a dark city street, and he stands at each rookie’s side. He answered the call, of himself he gave his all ...And A Part Of America Died."
Police Chief Mathew Mantoni Memorial Dedication Address to the People of Mendon by Lindsey Kempton, May 15, 1999.
Members of the Mendon Police Department
The Board of Selectmen
The Mantoni Family
Honorable Senator Moore
Honorable State Representative Parente
Retired Chief Townsend
And all in attendance.
About six weeks ago, Chief Grady asked me to participate in this ceremony, a Memorial Dedication for Mendon Police Chief Mathew Mantoni. He asked me to look into the events that resulted in the tragic shooting death of Chief Mathew Mantoni on January 11th, 1950. I did this and in doing so, stepped back in time.
The Mendon Police Department of the 1950's was a different world than today. Funding was minimal. Mendon didn't own any Police cruisers. The Chief and his Officers used their own cars and purchased their own uniforms. They worked on a part-time basis and were paid hourly. Communications were by telephone only. Two-way radios were still in the future for Mendon. Police Chiefs worked out of their homes and often times their wives took the calls.
Mathew Mantoni served the town as a deputy fire chief, was elected to the position of Constable, and appointed, by the Board of Selectmen, as Chief of Police. In order to support his family, Chief Mantoni had to work another full-time job. If an emergency occured while the Chief was at work a part-time Officer would be called until the Chief could arrive. But at night it was the Chief who answered and responded to the calls. He responded to both the frivolous and the dangerous usually without any backup. It was in this way that Mendon Police Chief Mathew Mantoni got up out of bed and responded to a call during the early morning hours of January 11th, 1950.
The owner of a local tavern, here in town, was called every night by his wife to chat and see how things were going. The owner and his wife shared a secret code word if things were not right. That night the word was spoken, his wife called the Chief and Mendon Police Chief Matthew Mantoni responded the rest is history.
Public service is a Calling. It was then and it is now. The times have changed, Mendon has changed. Our police department is better funded, we have full-time police officers, cruisers and radios. Mendon is a wonderful town. But then as now there were good guys and bad guys.
Mathew Mantoni is a true Mendon hero. He took the Oath of Office, served our town, and paid the supreme price. In honoring Chief Mantoni, who gave his life in the line of duty, we also honor all who have served the Town and worn the Uniform. We pray that this never happens again.
May 15, 1999