May 7, 2005


For Her, Cheers Bring Tears (SEAN KIRST, May 06, 2005, Syracuse POST-STANDARD)

Every spring, Helen Donovan opens a kitchen window in her home on Malverne Drive on the North Side of Syracuse, where she listens to the cheers from the nearby Le Moyne Little League field. Almost always, at some point, Helen picks out a familiar name:

"Come on, Bobby. You can do it, Bobby."

She has heard those words before. They make her cry. They are her son.

Helen, 85, is a member of the Gold Star Mothers, a group of moms whose children died in the line of duty. In 1966, at 19, Bobby Donovan was killed in combat in Vietnam. His name is among more than 58,000 listed on a traveling wall set up temporarily at the New York State Fairgrounds.

With Mary Burgen, Marsha Connor and Dorothy Czajak - three other Gold Star mothers from Onondaga County - Helen will help to lay a wreath during today's 10 a.m. opening ceremonies. It is always difficult, she said, to face her son's name on the wall. With her husband, Francis, Helen has made several visits to the original memorial in Washington, D.C.

"The silence is almost deafening, if you know what I mean," she said.

Yet Helen finds it appropriate for the wall to arrive here in the spring, the time of year when local youth baseball leagues are starting up.

Little League, to Helen, always represents Bobby.

"That was a wonderful time in our lives," she said.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 7, 2005 12:00 AM
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