By BOB TUROSZ
NORTH READING — Balmy temperatures, gentle winds and sunny skies greeted a crowd of about 200 residents, from the very old to the very young, who came to the center of town to pay tribute to the nation’s veterans on Tuesday, Nov. 11.
If there was a common theme among the speakers of the day, it was that the nation must continue to support its veterans after they leave the service and try to rebuild their lives.
This year’s master of ceremonies was high school junior Jason Glenn. Rev. Rachel Fisher, pastor of the Aldersgate United Methodist Church, gave the invocation and benediction and the Marine Corps Color Guard from HQ Co. 25th Marine Regiment presented the colors.
The top of the hill on the town common was ringed with American flags carried by the Patriot Guard Riders while the North Reading Police Department Color Guard also stood watch. The High School Band played the National Anthem and patriotic tunes and the town’s Boy, Girl, and Cub Scouts and Venture Crew 921 led the assembled throng in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Jeff Yull read the opening proclamation from the Board of Selectmen and Chairman Robert Mauceri and Town Administrators were among the guest speakers of the day.
Mauceri paid tribute the the veterans who unselfishly took time out of their lives to serve the nation in times of war, peace and national disaster. “We owe all of them our gratitude for assuring our safety and guaranteeing our way of life.”
Mauceri recalled the Veterans Administration scandal that broke earlier this year regarding delayed and shoddy medical care for veterans. This led to a shakeup in the VA and there were a lot of excuses for what happened, he said – budget cuts, poor administration, cheating on performance goals.
“We should all be outraged, we should demand our legislators adopt standards of care for our veterans. We owe this much to the men and women who have served in our Armed Forces protecting our nation. We all too often take for granted the sacrifices our veterans and our families make every day to protect our way of life,” Mauceri said.
Town Administrator Michael Gilleberto noted that for town government, the service a veteran gives is that a of an experienced and trained professional. “A veteran understands chain of command, dedication, incident command in an emergency, loyalty to his or her colleagues, what it means to give their best and what it means to serve a greater good,” he said.
“All of our residents benefit each and every day from having veterans in the town work force.To veterans, thank you for your service in the military and thank you for your continued service today,” he added.
The honored guest speaker of the day was North Reading’s Rey Rivera, a retired U.S. Army staff sergeant who served four combat tours including Afghanistan, Iraq and Kuwait, working on attack helicopters. From 1997 to 2005 he received two Army commendations, two Good Conduct medals, the National Defense Service Medal and other awards and honors.
Rivera spoke about choices. We all make choices every day in our lives, he said and veterans make the choice to serve.
“Veterans make the choice to make the ultimate sacrifice and defend our way of life. We live with choices, let’s make those choices based on the way we live, which is the freedom of this country.”
Rivera urged employers to hire veterans, who he said have “experience, grit and a can–do attitude to make it happen.” Veterans make good and honorable employees who stand by what they believe and that is doing the right thing.
“They make a choice to fight for us, we can make a choice to hire them. We are a community of military men and women. The grounds we stand on were founded upon the blood that our men and women have shed in the last two centuries. Our grass grows because of the blood and tears they have shed. Let us not forget our country has been founded on our fighting forces of men and women.”
As high school band members Ashtyn Parker–McDermott and Matthew Paolucci played Taps and the Minitmen fired their musket volleys, a delegation of veterans laid wreaths at each of the war memorials on the common.