Whately’s memorial rededicated as officials recognize veterans’ service

  • U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern speaks at the rededication ceremony of Whately’s Veterans Memorial Thursday afternoon. STAFF PHOTO/CHRIS LARABEE

  • U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern, state Rep. Natalie Blais, D-Sunderland, and Whately Select Board member Fred Baron at Whately’s Veterans Day ceremony Thursday. STAFF PHOTO/CHRIS LARABEE

  • Members of the Hale-Clapp Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3295 fire a three-shot volley to close the Whately Veterans Day ceremony Thursday. STAFF PHOTO/CHRIS LARABEE

  • The Veterans Memorial is not yet complete as the town awaits two more pieces of stone with additional plaques featuring more names of Whately service members. STAFF PHOTO/CHRIS LARABEE

  • The Veterans Memorial is not yet complete as the town awaits two more pieces of stone with additional plaques featuring more names of Whately service members. STAFF PHOTO/CHRIS LARABEE

  • Whately Selectboard Chair Jonathan Edwards speaks at the town’s rededication ceremony for the Veterans Memorial on Thursday. STAFF PHOTO/CHRIS LARABEE

Staff Writer
Published: 11/11/2021 7:50:36 PM

WHATELY — Dozens gathered Thursday afternoon in front of Town Hall to rededicate the newly renovated Veterans Memorial and honor those who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces.

Town officials shared the importance of honoring Veterans Day as members of the Hale-Clapp Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3295 delivered a three-shot volley to close the ceremony. Resident Megan Murphy performed the national anthem as well.

U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern and state Rep. Natalie Blais, D-Sunderland, provided remarks.

“This is a community that cares deeply about our veterans as evidenced by the fact that so many people are here today on this beautiful day,” McGovern said to the crowd. “This will be a spot where people will come time and time again and remember those who pay the ultimate sacrifice for our country.”

McGovern highlighted the contrast between saying kind words about veterans and the grim reality many of them face when it comes to food insecurity, health care and shelter.

“On Veterans Day, politicians tend to say a lot of very nice words and I think that’s important, but even more important is for us is to take concrete action,” McGovern said.

“It is unconscionable that we still live in a country where we have veterans who are homeless, where we have veterans who don’t know where their next meal is going to come from, or where we have veterans who don’t get access to first-class health care.”

Select Board Chairman Jonathan Edwards thanked the joint efforts of all who were involved in the park’s renovation and said Veterans Day brought a chance for everyone to come together.

“Veterans are the fabric that bring us together,” Edwards said. “It’s the true segment of the population that we reference as the bridge to who we are in our history. It’s remarkable there’s really no other population segment that we do that with and that’s testimony right there to why Veterans Day is so important.”

Edwards spoke about the importance of veterans to the town and said those who served “maintain their commitment to community.”

“It’s in their DNA,” Edwards said, “and I want to thank all veterans for that DNA because community is very important.”

The rededication marked the near completion of the revitalization of the park, which began in 2018 and cost approximately $30,000, according to Town Administrator Brian Domina. The memorial is not yet complete because the town is waiting on two final pieces of stone, which will feature plaques with the names of additional Whately veterans.

The memorial plaques feature veterans — of all branches of the military, including reserves — from both World Wars, Vietnam War, Korean War, Revolutionary War, French and Indian War, Civil War and the War of 1812.

During the ceremony, Edwards highlighted the efforts of Jim Ross, a local veteran and one of the driving forces behind the park improvement project. Ross said the park site was overrun with weeds and it proved to be a challenge to redesign.

“It was a difficult site to develop. … It really was not a pretty site,” Ross said after the ceremony. “We came up with what you’re looking at.”

Ross said extensive research was involved to find Whately residents who have served; the town is still receiving new additions.

“We’re still getting names. I got one yesterday at the 11th hour. I don’t want to miss anyone. When it’s done, it’s done,” Ross said. “I was very honored to be able to do this.”

The landscape work and garden beds around the memorial were completed by Snow & Sons Landscaping, while the stonework was undertaken by Sonam Lama of Sonam’s Stonewalls and Art in South Deerfield.

Lama said he was glad to be contacted for the project and he “really appreciates” what veterans have done for this country.

“I’m really honored to do this,” he said. “The veterans are the reason we are free.”

McGovern told the Greenfield Recorder the memorial is a “tribute to the people of Whately.”

“There were a lot of people here today and it’s a tribute to this community,” McGovern said. “It shows they care deeply of veterans.”

He added that these memorial ceremonies are a chance to give thanks to veterans and reemphasized that everybody needs to do better.

“Being at these ceremonies is a way for me to express my gratitude,” McGovern said. “As a nation, we need to do better by our veterans.”


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