Honor. Courage. Commitment. These three words exemplify the life of U. S. Marine Sgt. Joshua D. Desforges and are inscribed in the three granite pillars at the memorial constructed to honor and remember Sgt. Joshua D. Desforges, USMC. The Desforges Memorial, located on the grounds of Ludlow High School at the bus turn around, was the idea of Ludlow High School attendance officer Tom Cote, a U. S. Marine, Vietnam veteran, and mentor and friend of Sgt. Desforges. Mr. Cote’s passion for ensuring the sacrifice Sgt. Desforges made for his country will not be forgotten led him to spend countless hours in his pursuit to see this dream come true. With Mr. Cote’s determination, and strong community-wide support, this memorial came to fruition during the summer of 2011. The efforts of many community partners--some who had a close relationship with Sgt. Desforges and others who may not have known him at all, but all wanting to ensure his memory would live on as an inspiration to others--helped to make this memorial a reality. Click here and here to read articles published in the Ludlow Register about community support during the construction of the memorial. Family and friends of Sgt. Desforges will always be very grateful for the outpouring of support to honor their son, brother, and friend.
All those close to Josh remember that school was not always his favorite place to be. Although Josh was very bright, his application to academics was not one of his strengths. Throughout his life, however, Josh was goal-oriented and passionate about achieving his dream, and he understood the important role his education would play in achieving his future career. As Josh traveled his academic path in the Ludlow Public Schools, he encountered several challenges, but he met those challenges with his never-ending sense of determination. With the unwavering support of his family, Josh kept his dream in the forefront and never veered from his goal, proudly receiving his high school diploma as a member of the Ludlow High School Class of 2004. This memorial is not only a reminder, to all, that Josh made the ultimate sacrifice, but also serves as a testament to Josh’s sense of determination and persistence in fulfilling his dream. A reminder of the importance to remain passionate about your life’s dream and believe in the ability to actualize it.
The resplendent design of the Desforges Memorial was created by retired Ludlow High School Art Teacher, Maureen Cotti. Josh attended Mrs. Cotti’s art class during the 2003-04 school year. She fondly remembers her former student: “Josh, in his own way, was a kind and compassionate young man. He was capable of poking fun at a classmate one minute and able to rise to the defense of another the next. Josh was always charming and never failed to entertain. With his huge zest for life walking in my door every day, I can only say the pleasure of having Josh as my student was all mine. I will never forget what I learned about teaching through the eyes of Josh!” It is abundantly clear that during the process of designing the memorial Mrs. Cotti kept her memories of Josh, and his zest for life, close to her heart. In addition to the three inscribed granite pillars, her memory of Josh is reflected in the black granite bench that not only proudly displays the words, “All gave some....some gave all” but also incorporates an image of Sgt. Desforges that is reminiscent of the “happy face” that Mrs. Cotti remembers greeting her in art class. As Josh’s mother, Arlene Desforges stated about the design, that stands as an eternal reminder of her son’s sacrifice, “It is perfect”.
To visit the memorial one only needs to travel down Chapin Street in Ludlow and turn onto “Sgt. Desforges Way” located between Ludlow Town Hall and Ludlow High School. Following the road to the left will bring you to the stone lined path of the memorial. And when you’re there, the Desforges family hopes that you will not only remember Josh and the ultimate sacrifice he made, but be inspired by the way he lived his life; his positive spirit, his never ending determination to follow his dream, his fidelity to the United States Marine Corps and most importantly his love of family and friends. In the words of Josh’s mother, “if others are inspired by Josh’s life, his work here will continue.”