Springfield honors its war dead with Memorial Day observation

May 27, 2020 | G. Michael Dobbs

Director of the Department of Veterans Services Thomas M. Belton and Deputy Director of the Department of Veterans Services Joe DeCaro bring a wreath to the city’s Civil War memorial with Congressman Richard Neal and Mayor Domenic Sarno.
Reminder Publishing photo by G. Michael Dobbs

SPRINGFIELD – Mayor Domenic Sarno described standing on a nearly deserted City Hall steps on the day the city commemorated Memorial Day as “surreal.”

Normally the steps would be filled with participants of the annual event, but with the pandemic a handful of people gathered to speak and to lay wreaths at the city’s war memorials. The event was streamed and recorded for later viewing.

Congressman Richard Neal explained how Memorial Day had its roots in Decorations Day, a day designated in southern states to decorate the graves of Confederate soldiers. Eventually the northern states adopted the holiday.

Neal said today Memorial Day recognizes the sacrifices of the men and women in the military who lost their lives during every conflict since the Civil War.  

Thomas Belton, director of the city’s Veterans Service Office, a Vietnam War veteran, said, “No man should be entitled to the blessings of freedom unless he is willing to preserve that freedom.”

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