Wilbraham celebrates Veterans Day
Quaboag Highlanders Pipes and Drum open the ceremonies on Nov. 11
Reminder Publications photo by Debbie Gardner
By Debbie Gardner
Assistant Managing Editor
WILBRAHAM -- "Let today, November 11, serve as call to remember our veterans," said State Rep. Angelo Puppolo as he addressed the young and old who came together in Crane Park to acknowledge the service paid to their country by Wilbraham residents.
Town Veterans Agent Richard Procknow commented on the size of this year's crowd there were groups fromAmerican Legion Post #286, Vietnam Vetrans of America Chapter 111 and the Polish American Veterans of Wilbraham as well as businesspeople, parents with toddlers and school-age children, single men, couples and a contingent of Boy Scouts from Troop 359 who were providing flag disposal services in attendance at this year's ceremony, which began promptly at 11 a.m. with bagpipe music provided by members of the Quaboag Highlanders Pipes and Drum.
This year marked the 25th Veterans Day ceremony to take place in Wilbraham.
The Rev. Meredyth Wessman Ward from the Episcopal Church of the Epiphany gave the invocation, Procknow led the group in the Pledge of Allegiance and Wilbraham & Monson Academy trumpeter Charles Corbett played the National Anthem to open the ceremony.
Puppolo was but one of the speakers at the event, which also included remarks by selectmen James Thompson, Patrick Brady and a special presentation to Minnechaug senior and trumpter David Peltier "for service to the town, playing Taps [at the Veterans Day event] since he was 15" by Select Board Chairman David Barry.
The event was punctuated by a flyover by two F-15s from the 104th Fighter Wing of the Massachusetts Air National Guard, based at Barnes Airport in Westfield, and a Zambian celebration song, "Bonse Aba," performed by the Mosaic Harmony chorale group from Wilbraham & Monson Academy under the direction of Carol Daggs.
Keynote speaker Capt. Matthew T. Mutti, chief of staff for the 104th Fighter Wing, reminded spectators of the long service our veterans have paid to the cause of freedom, saying, "For 231 years, the men and women of America have answered the call," then went on to talk about his own military experiences and the commitment of his family to the cause of freedom.
Mutti and two members of the Polish America Veterans of Wilbraham, Walter Nowak and Mildred Kielbania, then laid wreaths at the base of the town's two war memorials as a pair of trumpters from Minnechaug, ninth grader Tom Peltier and his older brother, David, closed the ceremony with an echoed performance of "Taps."