AMERICAN LEGION POST 131 Riffle Squad members, from left, Army veteran Paul Donato, Army 82nd Airborne Division veteran Jack Lukas, U.S. Marine Corps veteran Charles Leach, U.S. Navy veteran John Harrigan and Navy veteran Tom Bogart fired shots into the air to honor fallen U.S. service members during the town’s Veterans Day ceremony on Nov. 11. (Dan Tomasello Photo)
By DAN TOMASELLO
LYNNFIELD — The town paid tribute to America’s heroes during the annual Veterans Day ceremony on the Town Common on Nov. 11.
Veterans Services Officer Bruce Siegel began the ceremony by welcoming the 300 attendees to the ceremony.
“Today, we honor our veterans who were steadfast in their beliefs in serving this great nation,” said Siegel. “We humbly thank all of you for your service, bravery and sacrifices. As we gather here today to honor our nations’ heroes be it Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, Coast Guard and Space Force, let us be mindful to honor them not just today, but every day. It is because of their bravery and sacrifice that we are the ‘Land of The Free.’”
Siegel said Veterans Day is an opportunity to “honor and celebrate veterans for their patriotism, love of country and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.”
“In fact, Veterans Day is largely intended to thank living veterans for their service, to acknowledge that their contributions to our national security are appreciated, and to underscore the fact that all of those who served have sacrificed and performed their duty,” said Siegel. “Born of their extraordinary accomplishments comes our extraordinary debt. And for those accomplishments and for their dedication, we must always be grateful.”
After townspeople recited “The Pledge of Allegiance,” Lynnfield High School Band Director Harry Wagg led the secondary schools’ music students with a moving performance of “The National Anthem.”
Siegel concluded his opening remarks by recognizing World War II veteran Joseph Joyce, who sat on the stage while his brother/U.S. Air Force veteran Al and Joe’s niece sat in the front row.
“Joe served in the United States Marine Corps from Feb. 4, 1944 to Nov. 2, 1945 during World War II,” said Siegel. “Joe participated in 75 combat missions in the Pacific. On June 19, 1945, Joe was wounded in action and was awarded a Purple Heart. He was also awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and two air medals. Joe lives in Lynnfield, and turned 100-years-old on Sept. 1. Thank you for your service Mr. Joyce.”
The ceremony’s attendees gave Joyce a thunderous round of applause, and the World War II veteran tipped his hat to the crowd to thank them.
Wagg led students while they performed a medley of military songs for the Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, Marine Corps and Navy. The ceremony’s attendees gave the students a round of applause.
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church Rev. Robert Bacon, a Navy combat veteran who served in the Persian Gulf War, gave the invocation and benediction during the Veterans Day ceremony.
“Today, we honor our nation’s veterans, brave and generous men and women, who continuously gave their best when they were called upon to serve and protect our country,” said Rev. Bacon. “We respect them, we thank them, we honor them and we are proud of them.”
State Sen. Brendan Crighton (D-Lynn) thanked Siegel for the work he has done helping Lynnfield veterans. He also thanked all of the veterans in attendance for their service.
“We enjoy our freedoms in America every day because of our veterans,” said Crighton.
Massachusetts Air National Guard Staff Sgt. Joseph Tropeano discussed what it means to be a veteran. He is assigned to the 212th Engineering and Installation Squadron at Otis Air National Guard Base in Sandwich.
“My unit works to install, upgrade and repair fiber optic and copper Internet communication systems as well as radio antenna systems across all branches of the military, both stateside and internationally,” said Tropeano. “Last year, I deployed for six months to the Middle East in support of Operation Spartan Shield, which is an ongoing mission to continue building partner capacity throughout the region. While I was deployed, I traveled to five countries scattered across the Middle East and worked on six different foreign air bases. Some of my duties while on deployment included upgrading radio antennas, operating heavy equipment, and shipping cable tools and supplies down range to forward deployed teams. Maybe it’s not the kind of job that earns awed respect or glory, but it is what my nation needed of me and what I was called to do. It was time spent away from my family, friends and community in service to the greater good. Those six months were time spent in extreme heat and harsh conditions in a time amid international conflict and political unrest. I was blessed to be surrounded by a supportive team of honorable men and women.”
Tropeano said, “Being a veteran means embodying the values of duty, honor, and sacrifice.”
“It means being part of a brotherhood and sisterhood that transcends time and circumstances,” said Tropeano. “It means having a profound appreciation for the liberties we enjoy in this great nation. As a veteran, I am reminded of the responsibility to ensure that their sacrifices are never forgotten, and their service is always respected. One of the most cherished aspects of being a veteran is the opportunity to learn from the honorable men and women who have served before me. It is an honor to be part of this family and to stand on the shoulders of giants who have faced adversity, displayed courage and made monumental sacrifices in the name of duty, honor and country.”
Tropeano recalled that veterans often face numerous challenges when they “return to civilian life.” He said it’s important for people to support veterans when they return home.
“Many of us grapple with the invisible scars of war, and the difficulties of transitioning into a world that may not fully understand our experiences,” said Tropeano.
Tropeano concluded his speech by noting that, “Veterans Day is a day to honor the past, recognize the present and ensure a better future for our veterans.”
“It means standing in unity to celebrate the extraordinary commitment and bravery displayed by those who have served,” said Tropeano. “As a veteran, I am immensely proud to have been a part of this legacy of service and sacrifice. I am grateful for the opportunity to defend the values that make our nation exceptional, and I remain committed to upholding those values just as my fellow veterans have done and continue to do. On this Veterans Day, let us take a moment to express our gratitude, to remember those who are no longer with us, and to stand together as a nation in support of our veterans. May we honor their dedication, cherish their stories, and ensure that their sacrifices are never forgotten. Happy Veterans Day.”
Select Board Chair Joe Connell, a 30-year U.S. Army veteran, thanked the 300 residents for attending the ceremony.
“Veterans have been fighting for our country since it came into being, from Daniel Townsend to those who are currently serving now,” said Connell.
While Connell recalled that the community comes together to honor veterans during the annual Veterans Day and Memorial Day ceremonies, he said it’s “important to remember that veterans are defending us 365 days a year.”
“In times of peace and in times of war, our veterans have exemplified the values of honor, courage and commitment,” said Connell. “They have displayed unwavering dedication to their fellow service members. Their love for country is proven. In this era of uncertainty and division, it is our veterans who serve as a unifying force. They come from all walks of life, representing the rich tapestry of our nation. Yet, when they put on the uniform, they become an even greater power — the embodiment of the American spirit.”
Connell said veterans have “made the solemn promise to sacrifice their lives for this country if called upon.”
“Without the formidable strength that veterans have demonstrated in war, Americans would never enjoy their daily freedoms,” said Connell. “For many veterans, our nation was important enough to endure long separations from their families, miss the births of their children, freeze in subzero temperatures, roast in far away deserts, lose limbs and, far too often, lose their lives. But their families serve and sacrifice as well. Military spouses have had to endure career interruptions, frequent changes of addresses, and a disproportionate share of parental responsibilities. The children often had to deal with changes in schools, separation from friends and, hardest of all, the uncertainty of whether or not mom or dad will live through their next combat tour.”
Connell concluded his speech by announcing that construction of the town’s new Veterans Memorial will begin this week.
“We are going to have the grand opening on Veterans Day next year,” said Connell. “It will contain the names of 1,052 Lynnfield residents who have served. It is going to be an absolutely magnificent monument that will show respect to Lynnfield’s veterans.”
After Connell concluded his remarks, an American Legion Post 131 Riffle Squad comprised of Army veteran Paul Donato, Army 82nd Airborne Division veteran Jack Lukas, U.S. Marine Corps veteran Charles Leach, U.S. Navy veteran John Harrigan and Navy veteran Tom Bogart fired shots into the air to honor fallen soldiers. Lynnfield High students Lucas Adreanni and Max Lin played “Taps” after the shots were fired.
“Our nation owes a debt to our veterans,” said Siegel. “It’s a debt we can never fully repay. But on this Veterans Day, we dedicate ourselves to accomplishing just that. To the men and women of the armed forces of the United States of America, and to all our veterans who have worn the uniform of this great nation, happy Veterans Day.”
The ceremony concluded with Girl Scouts leading attendees during a performance of “God Bless America.”
After townspeople gave the Girl Scouts a round of applause, the ceremony’s attendees enjoyed lunch provided by the town.