A Tribute to Al Bonazzolli|
By Ray CLark
He was, of course, the first Colonel of the revived Sudbury Companies of Militia & Minute, and if the wise men who re-formed us hadn't established a rule against Colonels succeeding themselves, he'd doubtless be Colonel still.
Our founders chose well. He was a special kind of man: a gentle man, in the best sense of the word; a kindly one; even, in a rough-hewn way, courtly. You liked him the instant you met him, and you took a secret pride in knowing that he liked you, too (he liked almost everybody). You r3spected him as well, which is something more rarely given than liking. He never had to raise his voice to be heard at a muster or a Colonels' Dinner, yet you always heard him, because you listened.
This was not merely respect for age. Of us all, he was in many ways the youngest, because he never allowed anger or contempt or impatience to cloud his enjoyment of the sunny days. So he remained perpetually fresh and youthful and expectant. Somehow, he had chosen an age to be, and when he arrived at it, he simply stayed there, never getting older but merely spending more years there.
He was born in Italy, and he was the most American of men. Had he been born two hundred years ago, he most certainly would have marched to Concord to fight for his freedom, as he fought in France.
He believed in his God and his country, and in the essential goodness and value of mankind, particularly that portion of it which marched from Sudbury to Concord on April 19.
The day he was laid to rest, his church bell tolled eighty-six times, once for each year of his life. During the tolling, you're supposed to think gloomy, sad thoughts, and to be bereaved. But at least some of us felt a deep joy and pride in having known this man, and it was impossible to associate sadness with his friendship.
He is an essential part of the fabric of the marvelous, haphazard group he helped bring to life. And as long as we march to Concord, he'll march at our head smiling and joking and making new friends the whole way.
This remarkable man, whom we all loved, has joined the long line of brave men vie follow.
Colonel Bonazzolli, we salute you.