by Elizabeth Connolly
Hometown Weekly Reporter
Just before the 11th hour of the 11th day of November 2023, a large crowd congregated by the gazebo on the town common. Some chatted with friends and neighbors, some enjoyed the hot coffee that was available, some sat solemnly on benches or chairs. Every age group was in attendance: young children were holding onto their grownups, scout groups stood together, high schoolers gathered in support of both veterans and participating classmates, adults and seniors were seated or standing, many with cameras ready to take photos. All were there to remember and honor those who have served our country.
The ensuing 45 minute program featured speeches from local Veterans Service Officer (VSO) Melissa Bingham, Pastor Anna Flowers, Veterans Service Committee (VSC) member Donna Summers, former VSC chair Rita Mienscow, and keynote speaker and U.S. Navy veteran Kathleen McTighe, among others. The Walpole High School band were also in attendance, providing music for the event, as were many Walpole police officers, fire fighters, emergency personnel, town officials, and, of course, numerous esteemed veterans.
Several “Hometown Heroes” banners were retired during the ceremony, and new ones were announced to take their place. “While other towns charge family members $50 to $250 (for the banners), Walpole charges nothing because we love our veterans and the program is supported by everyone here today.” Mienscow exclaimed proudly, which was met with thunderous applause. As a perfect example, the Junior Women’s Club of Walpole (JWCW) were standing by with a giant check for $25,000 to donate to the VSC, which caused for another round of joyous applause.
“I was so honored to speak,” McTighe commented after the ceremony. “And this is such an amazing group. Do you know that they moved my dad’s banner, so it would be next to mine? That’s how thoughtful Melissa and everyone else are. It was great to be here with them today.”
All in attendance were invited to the VFW on Robbins Road after the ceremony for lunch and further fellowship.
On behalf of Hometown Weekly Newspaper, we would like to say thank you to all Veterans for their continued service and dedication for our country.