|By Chris Maza
Brian Tidlund, commander of American Legion Post 293, left, and Selectman Debra Boronski lay a wreath in front of the memorial monument in front of Town Hall during East Longmeadow’s Veterans’ Day ceremony.
Reminder Publications photo by Chris Maza
EAST LONGMEADOW – Residents and officials gathered on Nov. 11 to honor those who served or are currently serving in the armed forces at a ceremony in front of Town Hall.
State Rep. Brian Ashe took time to thank veterans, and the community for its long history of showing its appreciation, which he said has led surrounding communities to do the same.
“This is the first year that every town in my district has a Veterans’ Day event and for me it’s an honor to be at each one,” he said. “I think you’ve inspired some of the communities around here, so thank you for that.”
Ashe also related a story about how he recently found a letter his uncle, a veteran, received from President Harry Truman that he said “epitomizes what we think of our veterans.”
“To you who answered the call of your country and served in the armed forces to bring about the total defeat of the enemy, I extend the heartfelt thanks of a grateful nation,” he read. “As one of the nation’s finest, you undertook the most severe task one could be called on to perform. Because you demonstrated the fortitude, resourcefulness and calm judgment necessary to carry out that task, we now look for you for leadership, example and further exalting our country in peace.”
Carmine DiFranco, commander of the East Longmeadow chapter of the Italian-American War Veterans, commended members of his organization and the American Legion Post 293 for continuing a tradition of service even after their military tour was completed and told a story of the U.S. naval fleet docking in New York during Christmas time in 1945 in order to deliver gifts to needy children during peacetime.
“These vessels of war had been transformed into carriers of compassion,” he said. “Since that time in 1945, many veterans organizations have sprung up in cities and towns all over the nation, such as the two we have here in East Longmeadow. We too are carriers of compassion and love.”
He went on to speak of the groups’ work with area nursing homes as well as charity initiatives with Shriners Hospitals, the Children’s Miracle Network, the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home, Toys for Joy and the East Longmeadow Scholarship Fund.
“Together we are doing God’s will of compassion and love of mankind, of the elderly, the children and the afflicted, as stated in several scriptures in the bible, just as the mighty armada of ships in New York Harbor did in 1945,” he said. “As servants of the past and servants of the present, we are still fighting for love of God and country.”
Brian Tidlund, commander of American Legion Post 293, echoed DiFranco’s sentiments, further reminding the crowd that Veterans’ Day honors “the service to our country that does not end with the termination of military service.”
“I have a patch on my Legion Riders’ vest that says, ‘My enlistment does not expire,’” he said. “I hold that true and will live by those words always. I’m sure the other veterans here feel the same way.”
Tidlund also asked for thoughts and prayers for prisoners of war and those missing in action as well as those currently engaged in hostilities “protecting us from all countries that want to ruin our ways of life with terrorist acts.”
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