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Wilbraham honors veterans with solemn ceremony

Date: 11/18/2008

By Courtney Llewellyn

Reminder Assistant Editor

WILBRAHAM Despite temperatures hovering around 40 degrees Fahrenheit, the town's Veterans Day ceremony drew an audience of nearly 100 who wanted to honor all those who have served their nation.

In addition to thanking the veterans who have served the United States since the Revolutionary War, the ceremony also honored the Polish American Veterans Club, which is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year.

On hand for the ceremony were State Sen. Gale Candaras, State Rep. Angelo Puppolo, Rev. John Talk and Wilbraham Board of Selectmen members Patrick Brady, James Thompson and David Barry. Veterans' Agent Richard Prochnow served as the master of ceremonies.

Veterans of World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam and the Iraq War that took part in the ceremony, and a flyover from the 104th Fighter Wing of the U.S. Air National Guard took place.

"We thank those men and women who have served past and present, in times of war and peace," Candaras stated. She promised that both she and Puppolo would fight for veterans' well being.

"Wilbraham is a town that never forgets her veterans," Puppolo said. "The purpose of Veterans to think about the 440,000 Massachusetts residents who have served both the Commonwealth and the nation."

Selectman Thompson had a similar message of thanks: "We owe the vision of a great democracy to our founding fathers...but the protectors of our freedom are generations of veterans. We owe our freedom to them, not just a few geniuses."

Brady, chair of the Board of Selectmen, introduced Paul Chrzan, Commander of the Polish American Veterans Club, as someone who served from February 1967 to February 1969, who earned a Bronze Star and who has been a member of the club for 40 years.

"After World War II, veterans came home and wanted to stay as friends," Chrzan explained of the founding of the Polish American Veterans Club. The club was chartered in 1948 with a goal of maintaining bonds and being involved in the community.

He said the night before the Veterans Day ceremony, the club spent their evening visiting with those at the Holyoke Soldiers' Home.

"The Polish veterans will continue to serve until they can serve no longer," Chrzan stated.

The ceremony closed with Chrzan and Mildred Kielbania, president of the Ladies' Auxiliary, laying a wreath beneath the monuments in Crane Park and Bill Shea, commander of the VFW post in Ludlow, playing Taps on his trumpet.