Published in the November 12, 2020 edition.


WAKEFIELD — Like everything else in 2020, Veterans Day was not the same as other years.

For the first time since 2011, the live ceremonies were held outdoors in front of the World War II Monument on Veterans Memorial Common. For reasons that no one needs to be reminded of, the in-person ceremony was purposely kept small and low key with just a couple of dozen in attendance, most of whom were veterans or members of the Veterans Advisory Board, which organized the event.

But thanks to WCAT, the event was recorded and the video was available to be viewed throughout the day on local cable and on WCAT’s web site and Facebook page. Through editing, WCAT was able to include the Wakefield Memorial High School Treble Choir singing the National Anthem along with “Taps” played on the trumpet by WMHS alumna Averi Parece.

The ceremony got underway at 11 a.m. as David Mangan, Veterans Service Officer for the town of Wakefield, welcomed those in attendance. Mangan introduced his fellow Vietnam War veteran (and Veterans Advisory Board member) Dan Benjamin to lead the Pledge of Allegiance, which was followed by the Star Spangled Banner (performed on the video by the WMHS Treble Choir).

“This year, we are embattled by the pandemic,” Mangan observed, addressing those in attendance. “Yet we still honor our veterans, although not in the grand scale that we would like, but through media exchanges and network communications.

“Veterans Day means freedom, sacrifice and honor for those who served in the military,” he said. “It also means to give thanks to people who served. Veterans Day is intended to honor and thank all military personnel who served the United State in all wars, particularly living veterans,” Mangan said.

“Let us also include this year our first responders, who by their own right have become veterans of the war on COVID,” he continued. “Our nurses, our doctors, our firefighters, police and ambulance service members have been fighting diligently toward protecting each and every one of us.

“And on this wall behind me and on the memorials around this common, we have the names of folks who have sacrificed and given their lives for our freedoms, some living, some dead,” Mangan added.

He then called upon Veterans Advisory Board member Robert Ettinger to read the governor’s Veterans Day proclamation.

The only public official to speak at yesterday’s observance was State Senator Jason Lewis.

“In the aftermath of a very contentious election,” Lewis said, “we must remember that the principles and values of our country that unite us are stronger by far than any political differences we may have.

“Nobody embodies this more than our veterans,” Lewis continued. “They put their lives at risk in defense of our country and they did so alongside fellow Americans of all races, religions and ethnic backgrounds.

“It didn’t matter if their fellow soldier, sailor, airman or Marine came from California or Texas, or Massachusetts or Mississippi. And it didn’t matter if they were Democrat or Republican or had similar or different political views,” he said.

“As we celebrate Veterans day this year under the difficult circumstances of an ongoing global pandemic,” Lewis concluded, “let’s use this opportunity to express our deepest gratitude to our veterans and to their families and also use this opportunity to remember what unites us as a proud democratic nation, a beacon of light for much of the world.”

Mangan next called upon Veterans Advisory Board members Marion Dennehy and Kristi Yentile to place the Veterans Day Wreath in front of the World War II Monument.

Mangan then announced the recent addition of several new pavers to the Veterans Walk of Remembrance for Sean C. Beede, John C. Bohling and Jerome V. Sweeney. 

The formal ceremony concluded with the playing of “Taps.”