Many of you may remember the tragic day, September 14, 2016, when Matthew X. Moses, age 26, drowned in Great Herring Pond. The community’s heart missed a beat. Almost seven years later, on Mother’s Day this year, May 14, 2023, the Herring Ponds Watershed Association unveiled a memorial plaque in honor of Matthew Moses at the public boat ramp of Great Herring Pond. Matthew’s son Tristan, 12 years of age, was an honored guest at the unveiling ceremony, along with Matthew’s parents, Bob and Betty, Tristan’s mother Shantey Santiago with her daughter Cleo, Matthew’s sisters, Kelly and Kristin, his brother-in-law, Brandon Reynolds, and his niece, Morgan. Matthew’s family was overjoyed and emotionally overwhelmed at their first sight of the memorial plaque prominently attached to a tree at the public ramp.
When I moved to our watershed three years ago, I walked to the public ramp where I saw a tattered and torn lifejacket with faded writings upon it. I asked around about it. Neighbors on the pond recounted the tragic event and told me that the lifejacket had been attached there, with family and friend’s sentiments written on it, after Matthew’s funeral. I was very moved as were those with whom I spoke. I decided we needed a better memorial for a young man gone too soon. Shortly thereafter, I contacted the Moses Family.
What a pleasure it was to meet this family. They gracefully talked of Matt with stories of his warmth, humor, and kindness, as if he were still here. He had filled them with love and laughter for their lifetime. Beautiful!
On hearing of the idea of a permanent memorial his family seemed excited. I asked them what they would like to be included in a memorial. They only had three requests: One, that Matt’s Alma Mata, Plymouth South High School be involved in its making because of Matthew’s love of having been part of its Class of 2009. Two, that a Celtic cross be part of it in some way. Three, that Matt’s social media post before he drowned, “Love all! This Life is a blessing.” be included. This quote from a 26-year-old man says much of who Matt was.
When I then contacted Steve Medeiros, Department Head of Plymouth High Schools’ Construction, he remembered Matthew and his family fondly! Mr. Medeiros has maintained contact with the family and was very enthusiastic and honored to have his students be involved in this project. Matthew’s family, as well as Herring Ponds Watershed Association, are forever grateful for the participating students’ hard work. By the obvious perfectionism and professionalism of the finished product, it’s evident they gave the memorial their all! I hope the students realize the importance of their work. They should be proud of their community service, their expert skills, and to be graduating from Plymouth North or South High Schools, as Matt was from Plymouth South.
The new memorial is quite impressive. On certain anniversaries of Matthew, his family gathers at the ramp, where they traditionally each toss a flower into the pond at the same time, in his memory. Now, they have this new memorial permanently displayed there to bring more honor to their tradition, while it also serves as a safety reminder to embarking boaters.
When out and about, stop by the ramp. Take a look at the memorial that honors the life of Matthew X. Moses and maybe toss a flower in the water. Remember him and remember the dangers of our pond.
Chair, Safety Committee