Veterans Day Observed in Berkshire County
iBerkshires.com reports on the 100th anniversary of the first Veterans Day, Air Force veteran James Brehio ordered the veterans in attendance at North Adams' observances to stand front and center.
"Turn around and face the audience and let them see you," said the National Executive Committeeman for the Massachusetts American Legion and keynote speaker at the city's annual ceremony.
Brehio said it takes a special kind of person to enter the service and to recite the 72 words of the oath pledging their commitment to defend the nation against enemies domestic and foreign.
But fewer Americans are entering the service and fewer still joining the veterans organizations that continue to provide them a seat at the table.
"Today, less than 1 percent of our nation's population is serving in the military, and nationally, veteran population is 9.18 percent of our total population," he said. "You, the veterans, are the country's best 10 percent."
Also speaking was Mayor Thomas Bernard, who remembered recently deceased Police Officer Joseph Dragotta, a Navy veteran of World War II, and the city's loss of Army Sgt. Peter Foote in Vietnam in 1968 and Army Spc. Michael DeMarsico II in Afghanistan in 2012.
"Their service reminds us all of our shared responsibility to honor and care for every veteran and every active service member," he said, including today's 2 million women veterans who are being honored by a bipartisan resolution introduced by U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren. "So again, let us all stand today resolute in our commitment to serve and honor all veterans."
The master of ceremonies of the event was American Legion 125 Senior Vice Cmdr. Mitchell Keil, who introduced veterans including World War II Navy veterans Bob Nichols and John Ghidotti, absent veterans and attendees including state Rep. John Barrett III. The opening and closing prayers were given by the Rev. David Anderson of First Baptist Church; Drury's Mackenzie Dobbert played taps and Anthony Pettengill, echo. The Drury High band also played several selections.
Members of Boy Scout Troop 35 handed out flags supplied by the Sons of the American Legion and their jockeying to be first to lead the Pledge of Allegiance prompted Anderson to comment, "this Veterans Day, let us again, endeavor to instill in our children sense of pride for our country. ...
Before Janey spoke, Herrera read a proclamation from the governor and also reinforced that all veterans are important. He said older veterans often come to him and feel as though they are lesser veterans because they did not see any combat.
Before closing, Marine George Winters was given the Veteran of the Year award. Winters served from 1963 to 1968 and fought in Vietnam. A long list of Winters' accolades was read including work he did to support veterans after leaving the service.