Wreaths placed at Easthampton monuments honoring veterans
Fran Perrier playing Taps on the war memorial on the lawn of the Emily Williston Memorial Library in Easthampton on Sunday. Fran Ryan Purchase photo reprints »
EASTHAMPTON — Easthampton resident Janice Daysh choked back tears Sunday while watching local veterans place wreaths at the town monuments honoring veterans from World War I, World War II the Korean and Vietnam wars. Like many who attend Veterans Day ceremonies, she had a personal connection.
“It just makes you very emotional,” she said. “My godfather was in the Army and killed in World War II just before it ended.”
Roughly 50 people attended a Veterans Day lunch, including Mayor Michael A. Tautznik, state Sen. Michael R. Knapik, R-Westfield, and state Rep. John Scibak, D-South Hadley.
Veterans from the Easthampton American Legion Post 224 and the VFW Post 3422 were also among those who turned out Sunday to pay respects to the men and women who have served their country in a day of remembrance, reflection and appreciation.
The motorcycle group the Legion Riders of Massachusetts Chapter 224 led a small motorcade to three different memorials in Easthampton, stopping at the Old Town Hall Civil War memorial, the Brookside Cemetery Veterans monument and the monuments to veterans on the Emily Williston Memorial Library lawn.
Two Americanism awards were given by the American Legion, one for a veteran and one for a non-veteran who have helped their country and community. They also received certificates of thanks from the state Senate and House of Representatives.
Robin Bialecki, director of the Easthampton Community Center, was this year’s winner of the Americanism Award for a non-veteran. “Part of what we honor on Veterans Day is service, service above self. Nobody does that better than Robin,” Knapik said.
Retired Chief Petty Officer Mark Subocz, who served in the Navy for 26 years, was the veteran chosen to receive the Americanism award. He was also presented with certificates of appreciation.
“This event is always well attended and it is an honor to have the opportunity to be with here with these veterans,” Tautznik said. “And I think that we really need to make sure that we are reaching out to soldiers that are returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.”