Veterans Day in Bedford, 2015

On the stage
Bedford’s Veterans Day ceremony in the auditorium at Bedford High School – Image (c) JMcCT, 2015 all rights reserved

By Julie McCay Turner

Inclement weather sent Bedford’s 2015 Veterans Day observance indoors, but the participants’ enthusiasm was not in the least dampened.

Convened by Patriotic Holiday Committee chair Paul Purchia, the ceremony included Bedford’s Minuteman Company in their 18th Century dress uniforms, Boy Scouts, Veterans and active service personnel, along with elected officials representing town boards and the Massachusetts Legislature.

Click each of these images (c)  Barb Purchia, 2015 all rights reserved to see them at their full width

Jon ‘OC’ O’Connor, Commander of the Anthony Hunt Hamilton Post of the American Legion, reminded the audience that “A veteran – whether active duty, retired, national guard, or reserve – is someone who, at one point in their life, wrote a BLANK CHECK made payable to The United States of America, for an amount up to and including THEIR LIFE.” Read Commander O’Connor’s full remarks

In his remarks, Chair of Bedford’s Selectmen Mark Siegenthaler spoke to the history of Armistice Day, now known as Veterans Day.  “By 1954 …Armistice Day was renamed Veterans Day, a day to honor the service and sacrifice of all Veterans not just those from the Great War.” He went on to say that the holiday is now known as “a celebration to honor America’s veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.” Read Selectman Siegenthaler’s full remarks

Rep. Ken Gordon (D-Bedford) described the pride he felt in being a part of the Bedford community. He pointed out the officers from Hanscom AFB present that day, as well as retired military heroes in attendance. He pointed out the uniformed police and fire personnel, who rush forward so others can retreat to safety; Bedford’s history, represented by the Bedford Minutemen, and its future, represented by the Junior ROTC.  Read Rep. Gordon’s full remarks

Bedford’s State Senator Mike Barrett (D-Lexington) spoke from his experience as Vice Chair of the Massachusetts’ Committee on Labor and Workforce Development. “Given the concern we hear regarding the challenges facing ex-military it was a distinctly pleasant shock to read a report issued last week by the U.S. Dept. of Labor, on employment for last month, October 2015.

“While the unemployment rate for the entire American workforce was a not-too-shabby 5.0%, the unemployment rate for American veterans was even better — much better, actually — 3.9%.”

Sen. Barrett went on to say “It also seems the military may be doing a better job of giving recruits training and life lessons that are of use later on.  According to a 2013 study by the Pew Research Center, 61% of post-9/11 veterans say their military experience has been relevant to the civilian jobs they’ve taken afterwards.  This compares to 41.1% of all veterans.” Read Sen. Barrett’s full remarks

In closing, participants were invited to come forward to remember loved ones who had served the United States, and add a small flag in their honor to a ceremonial wreath. Boy Scouts named their grandparents, and older residents called up colleagues and relatives.

A post-ceremony luncheon was prepared by the American Legion Auxiliary, and enjoyed by many of the participants.

The Veterans Memorial outside Bedford High School - Image (c) Barb Purchia, 2015 all rights reserved
The Veterans Memorial outside Bedford High School – Image (c) Barb Purchia, 2015 all rights reserved

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