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Veterans Green ceremony in Agawam November 11

On Nov. 11, 2007, we will be conducting our annual ceremony at the Veterans Green at 10:45 a.m. I am hoping that many of you can make it, as last year was sparsely attended. After speaking to members of the Agawam Veterans Council, I found out that almost every year, the ceremony is lightly attended. I cannot fathom why people would not want to honor our veterans, especially while we have many people from our area presently serving overseas. This is a special day and I would love to have a better turn out than the 25-30 people we had last year. I wrote the following as a special tribute for our veterans.

In September 1943, Life magazine published the first photo of dead American serviceman that American civilians had been allowed to see in the 21 months since Pearl Harbor. The photo shows three dead American soldiers on a beach, one half covered in sand from waves, one on his back, and one face down in the sand. It is a very somber and sobering picture of what WWII looked like. This is what was written below the picture.

"Here lie three Americans. What shall we say of them? Shall we say that this is a fine thing, that they should give their lives for their country? Why print this picture anyway of three American boys, dead on an alien shore? The reason is that words are never enough. The eye sees. The mind knows. The heart feels. But the words do not exist to make us see, or know, or feel what it is like, what actually happens.

"And so here it is. This is the reality that lies behind the names that come to rest at last on monuments in the leafy squares of busy American towns. The camera doesn't show America and yet here on the beach is America, three parts of 130 million parts, three fragments of that life we call American life, three units of freedom. So that it is not just these three boys who have fallen here, it is freedom that has fallen. It is our task to cause it to rise again."

My point to everyone today is that even though we are exposed to photos and videos on a daily basis of the troops overseas, it should not diminish their meaning. We should be just as appalled and shocked at their presence. Because we see them more frequently, does not mean that we should take them for granted. Our troops are dying on a regular basis, and it is our task, as Americans, to support them. It is our generations turn to help freedom rise again.

Veterans Day is dedicated to all of our troops, past and present. Personally, I can't thank all of you enough.

Richard J. Girard, Jr.

Director of Veterans' Services

Western Hampden District