Honoring Those Who Served


Veterans Day 2009 in Wakefield, Massachusetts
Soldiers Salute
As featured speaker at yesterday’s Veterans’ Day exercises, US Army veteran Sam Stella delivered his remarks in an auditorium lined with the photographs of Wakefield soldiers who died in battles fought in distant places long ago. He focused his comments on the roles that United States servicemen and women played in World War I and World War II.

“They did what they were supposed to do,” Stella said of the veterans of both World Wars, “and that’s the reason why we’ve been able to continue in this country. When people get together and do things in unison, the job gets done.”

Stella is a Wakefield native who attended St. Joseph School and graduated from Wakefield High School in 1962. He is a Past Commander of the Cpl. Harry E. Nelson American Legion Post 63 of Wakefield. A Vietnam era veteran, Stella commended those who came out yesterday to participate in Veterans’ Day.

“You are here to take part in this function,” Stella said, “and it means so much to all veterans.”

American Legion Post 63 Commander Thomas Collins got yesterday’s Veterans’ Day program underway promptly at 11 a.m. in the auditorium at the Galvin Middle School, named for Wakefield native Gen. John Rogers Galvin.
Commander Thomas Collins - Amercan Legion Post 63 - Wakefield, MA
After leading the Pledge of Allegiance, Collins introduced Rev. Glen Mortimer of Wakefield-Lynnfield Methodist Church for the Invocation. The National Anthem was sung by the Wakefield High School Chamber Singers.

In what has become a moving Veterans Day tradition, the WHS Wind Ensemble played “American Heroes: A Salute to the Armed Forces,” arranged by Carl Strommen under the direction of Thomas Bankert. The medley includes the themes from each branch of the armed forces: the US Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps. As each theme song was played, veterans in attendance from that branch of the service stood to the applause of the crowd. The veterans had another chance to stand and be recognized later in the program when the Wakefield Choral Society sang its “Armed Forces Salute.”

Vietnam era veteran John Carney, the current chairman of the Board of Selectmen, spoke on behalf of the town. He first recognized his fellow board members in attendance: James Good, Betsy Sheeran, Patrick Glynn, Paul DiNocco, John Encarnacao and Albert Turco.

Carney talked about the disproportionately large percentage of military veterans, in particular Vietnam veterans, who are among the homeless population in the United States today.

“These numbers are telling and a somber reminder that the afflictions of war continue long after the conflicts have ended,” Carney said. “I implore our state legislature and Congressional delegation to right this wrong.” He called upon those in attendance to support the American Legion and other organizations that assist veterans in need.

Carney commended the work of the World War II Memorial Committee as they raise funds to replace the aging monument on the Common, and called for public support of their efforts. Carney also recognized soldiers in attendance from the 26th Yankee Brigade out of Camp Edwards who recently volunteered their time and effort performing repairs and refurbishing the World War II Monument in preparation for Veterans’ Day.
26th Yankee Brigade members
Robert Smith, Chief of Staff for Rep. Mark Falzone, reported that the state legislature had just passed a major increase in the Commonwealth’s commitment to benefits for veterans. “It is fitting that this should be done at a time when we honor our veterans,” Smith said.

Rep. Katherine Clark noted that her own sons and most of the students present at yesterday’s ceremony “only remember us as a nation at war.” She observed that many servicemen who have lost their lives were only a few years older than the high school students at yesterday’s observance.

“It is the young that we ask to defend our nation,” Clark stressed. “All of the veterans here made a very profound decision when they were young. They made a decision to serve their country, and if asked, would give their lives for our nation to protect our liberties. It is a very important decision, but one that is made quietly and without fanfare by our veterans.”
World War II Monument
Following the Veterans’ Day exercises, members of the American Legion and town officials visited the World War II Monument on the Common along with the soldiers from Camp Edwards who performed the recent facelift and restoration of the memorial.

One Response to “Honoring Those Who Served”

  1. 1 worldwar1letters

    Readers may also be interested in the writings home from the front of US Sgt. Sam Avery. Fascinating eyewitness history from the hot sands along the Rio Grande to the cold mud along the Meuse. Letters are posted on the same day they were written from the trenches 91 years ago. Long before the Greatest Generation there was the Most Gallant Generation. Come visit the blog and march along.

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