The town’s first virtual Veterans Day observance on Bedford TV YouTube Thursday fit like a comfortable sweater – and a bright new face mask.
The prerecorded words and music delivered the same message that years of actual ceremonies have done.
However, one annual feature – personal tributes of family members or friends – changed dramatically. Most of the statements recorded were by students from Hanscom Middle School. And most were expressing love and admiration for their parents or relatives.
There weren’t nearly as many tributes as would have been delivered at Veterans Memorial Park, when dozens of participants of all ages line up for quick, sometimes spontaneous remarks.
But although there were fewer tributes Wednesday, they were longer and more detailed. Besides the students, words were also offered by Scouts and a few adults.
Elected officials were the central speakers. State Sen. Michael Barrett declared that Veterans Day is a timely unifying opportunity. “We were divided as a country on Election Day. It was difficult to remember the values that we share and united us as a nation,” he said. “This Veterans Day reminds us that there are causes we share as a country.” He called for a spirit of conducting the country’s business “the way we conduct Veterans Day, all for one nation.”
Recorded outside the State House, and speaking directly to veterans, State Rep. Kenneth Gordon said, ”You chose to put your lives on the line. You know you did it because there’s a greater good.” He referenced the town’s two Gold Star families and said, ‘Here in Bedford we act. We welcome veterans at Bedford Green and the VA Hospital and veterans organizations and Hanscom Air Force Base. We appreciate that many veterans continue their public service with police and fire.”
Select Board Chair Ed Pierce, recorded in front of the World War II monument at Veterans Memorial Park, acknowledged the change of format. “There is no podium,” he said. “The only thing here are those who have served. This is a time to remember the sacrifices that were and are being made.” Pierce acknowledged his grandfather’s service in both World Wars.
Two leaders of the 66th Air Base Group at Hanscom Air Force Base opened the proceedings. Col. Katrina C. Stephens said veterans “represent a fundamental truth: the men and women who have worn and who wear the uniform” are the source of the nation’s military greatness. Chief Master Sgt. William C. Hebb, group command chief, noted that military families should be honored as well. Paul Purchia, chair of the town Patriotic Holiday Committee, saluted not only nearly 18 million living veterans but also “nurses, doctors, EMTs, all the brave men and women keeping us safe during these challenging times.”
Other prerecorded segments were three members of Scout Troop 194 reciting the Pledge of Allegiance at Memorial Park; the “Singing Seabee,” Kevin Dougherty, presenting “The Star-Spangled Banner” and, to close, “God Bless America;” John Cooper, Post 221 chaplain; and Lorene Simoneau and her daughter Julia playing “Taps” at a bucolic New Hampshire location.
The town’s two veterans organizations were represented. Jon O’Connor, commander of American Legion Post 221, cited the town’s support for Hanscom AFB and Edith Nourse Rogers Veterans Hospital. He praised veterans for their deterrent value – “the battles that American does not have to fight.”
The Rev. Dr. Alonzo Chisholm, senior vice commander of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1628, declared, “Veterans are those people who went into service for their country. There’s no greater honor than to do that. Here is a different approach: I thank the citizens of this country for allowing me to serve.”
Mike Rosenberg can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 781-983-1763
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