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By Robby McKittrick
Hometown Weekly Reporter
Every year on Veterans Day, the Needham community comes together at Memorial Park to honor the town’s veterans with a commemorative service.
This past Sunday, crowds of Needham residents, firefighters, police officers, and, of course, veterans came out for the ceremony.
“I have friends who have served and died,” said Tom Johnson, a Needham resident in attendance. “It’s the reason we’re free. It’s as simple as that.”
“I showed up to show my respect and gratitude,” added another Needham resident, Kurt Hollfelder. “I value my freedom and recognize the price that was paid and what these men and women went through. It resonates with me, and it’s the least we can do to show up.”
Another member in attendance, and one of the organizers of the event, was Steve Rosenstock of the Needham Exchange Club.
“We are just here to say ‘thank you’ and support the veterans,” said Rosenstock. “As a veteran, it’s a day to think of everybody that had served our country, and [we have] little tears in our eyes for those who have died.”
One of the many speakers at the event was St. Sebastian’s High School junior Jack Gallagher. Gallagher, who hopes to attend the Naval Academy, reflected on the importance of his speech.
“I am … honoring [the veterans] because they have done so much,” said Gallagher before the ceremony. “I am really honored to have been asked to do it. It means a lot … This is the hardest thing I have ever had to write, because there is so much significance.”
Veteran Bill Topham hosted the event, and began the ceremony by commemorating the 100th anniversary of the “war to end all wars,” WWI.
Then, after a prayer, the National Anthem was played and the flag raised. Subsequently, State Senator and veteran Michael Rush addressed the crowd.
“We say thank you to our veterans … who have been willing to put their life on the line so we can all have a better tomorrow,” he said. “I am honored and privileged to be with you this morning.”
Gallagher then addressed the crowd with a very eloquent and meaningful speech.
“Everyone here knows - I know - that you’ve made a difference,” he said to the veterans. “You deserve the very best of our country … There is no greater love than to lay down your life for your country.”
State Representative Denise Garlick also spoke at the event.
“We pray for all [of the veterans], and we will call them veterans with the respect they deserve,” she said.
"We are so grateful.”