By Julia Beauregard
Hometown Weekly Correspondent
Westwood locals recently gathered together at Westwood Veterans’ Park to pay homage to its veterans of past and present.
The ceremony took place late morning on Friday, November 11 — Veterans Day — under a flowing American flag, which was suspended over a Westwood Fire Department truck.
Members of the community gathered together as Dick Paster, commander of Westwood Post 320 of the American Legion, opened the ceremony to honor his fellow veterans. After his opening words, he invited Father Bill Robinson to say a prayer for the veterans and those in attendance.
Westwood High School freshman and trumpet player Hank Murray then came to the podium to play the National Anthem. After his beautiful rendition, everyone joined together to pledge their allegiance to the flag.
Paster then welcomed State Representative Paul McMurtry, who acts as the chairperson for the Joint Committee on Veterans and Federal Affairs in Massachusetts, to the speak. He spoke to “publicly honor and embrace our veterans,” and explained his work to support the “300,000 veterans in Massachusetts.”
McMurtry was accompanied by Select Board Members Rob Gotti, Marianne LeBlanc-Cummings, and Michael Walsh. Gotti took the podium after McMurtry to pay his respects to the veterans of past, present, and future, stating “freedom is not free”; our veterans had to pay the price to keep our country safe.
Paster returned to the podium and gave an eloquent speech on the service to which veterans commit themselves for their country. “The service of America’s veterans never truly ends,” Paster stated, reminding the assembled that former members of the armed forces serve our communities long after they hang up their uniforms. Many veterans become teachers, police officers, and first responders specifically so they may continue to serve America.
Paster placed a large emphasis during his speech on the high suicide and homelessness rates that our veterans face. As American citizens, he suggested, two of the most important services we can perform are encouraging veterans to reach out and seek help to prevent suicide, and hiring veterans to prevent homelessness.
American Legion Post 320 Post Adjutant Edward Richardson followed at the podium and discussed the act of self sacrifice committed by all of our veterans so they could “translate a devotion of war into a devotion of peace.”
Paster then led his fellow former service members to salute the colors to close out the ceremony.