Veterans Day Parade honors those who served

  • Tom Travis and Norman Cousino, both Korean War-era veterans from Greenfield, bow their heads during the Pledge of Allegiance during Veterans Day services at the Veterans Mall in Greenfield on Monday. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • People attend the Veterans Day services at the Veterans Mall in Greenfield on Monday. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Brownies participating in the Veterans Day Parade in Greenfield distribute flags. staff photo/paul franz​​​​​​​

  • A Korean War era veteran is reflected in the Vietnam War memorial during Veterans Day services at the Veterans Mall in Greenfield on Monday. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • A member of the Greenfield High School Marching Band plays “Taps” during Veterans Day services at the Veterans Mall in Greenfield on Monday. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Paul “PJ”€ Herbert of Shelburne Falls, veteran of tours in Iraq and Somalia, speaks during Veterans Day services at the Veterans Mall in Greenfield on Monday. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Paul “PJ”€ Herbert of Shelburne Falls, veteran of tours in Iraq and Somalia, lays a wreath at the Vietnam War memorial during Veterans Day services at the Veterans Mall in Greenfield on Monday. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

  • Veterans Day services were held Monday at the Veterans Mall in Greenfield. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 11/11/2019 11:01:27 PM

GREENFIELD — The annual Veterans Day Parade brought residents to the Veterans Mall to honor those now serving, those who lost their lives and those who fought over 200 years ago.

Led by Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3295 out of South Deerfield, the parade began at Greenfield Middle School and went south on Federal Street and west on Main Street, stopping for a ceremony at the Veterans Mall.

As the parade passed, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts handed out flags to spectators lining Federal Street. There were cheers and clapping, with fellow veterans saluting one another.

Boy Scouts Nate Johnston and Zack Perreault, both of Greenfield, said they come to the parade annually.

“I come every year with my parents and grandparents,” Perreault said. “My grandfather was a Marine. I also like to hand out flags.”

“It’s important to honor veterans because they were so nice to serve our country, and we should have a day to celebrate them,” Johnston added.

Director of the Upper Pioneer Valley Veterans Services Timothy Niejadlik spoke about the work of Mayor William Martin, who secured funding for the organization from Massachusetts Vietnam Veterans Inc. Martin marched with the parade and is also a veteran.

“I want to personally thank Mayor Martin for being a guiding hand to help our district move along,” Niejadlik said. “And since he came back from Vietnam, looking out for Vietnam veterans and helping establish the Agent Orange claims that have affected a lot of veterans and their widows.”

Before introducing the speaker for the ceremony, Niejadlik said he wanted to remind everyone that not all wounds are visible.

“I want all of you — whether you’re a disabled veteran or a civilian — to understand that veterans with disabilities may not show it,” he said. “They may not be missing a limb. They may not have a wound that is clearly visible, but just understand that some of us come from a place that affects us and affects how we deal with people. So, I just ask you for your understanding.”

This year’s speaker was Paul “PJ” Herbert, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran of operations in Desert Storm and Somalia, and a Shelburne Falls resident. Herbert serves as the commandant of the Oak Ridge Detachment Marine Corps League as well as the junior vice commandant of the Department of Massachusetts Marine Corps League.

Herbert said while he was serving in his second tour in Iraq, he was blasted by two IEDs (improvised explosive devices). Still, Herbert said he has invisible injuries that people overlook, including a traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder.

He said recent events have shown how important it is to have freedoms, and thank those who served and protected others.

“The definition of a hero is: ‘a person who is admired or idolized for courage, outstanding achievement or noble qualities,’” Herbert said. “There are many heroes among us. It is wonderful to see the spirit of patriotism in our country. ... All of our veterans have protected our democracy, our freedom, our way of life. Today, we honor them. Thank you. And tomorrow, we must continue to honor them. They have given us the opportunity to live in freedom and to look forward to today and tomorrow.”

Parade onlookers and participants emphasized the importance of veterans and their service to the United States.

South Deerfield resident Laurel Jablonski said she works on Federal Street and was lucky enough to see the parade as it went by.

“There are so many veterans (who) have given their lives for us,” Jablonski said. “I have a nephew who has been to Iraq, so I have a personal connection. Veterans deserve recognition. Some of them weren’t treated so well, like the Vietnam veterans. So it’s important that we do this, that we honor veterans.”

Greenfield resident Jim Winn, an Air Force veteran, said he comes to the parade every year. Winn said he has a son who is a lieutenant colonel in the Army as well.

“It’s history. You have to remember it,” Winn said. “You can’t change history.”

Like Winn, Doug Clarke, of Greenfield, has made it a tradition to attend the Veterans Day Parade.

“I come every year to honor the sacrifices of veterans, which we often take for granted and forget,” Clarke said. “Hopefully, we can continue to support adequately funding programs for veterans. These are people who have nobly served our country.”

Reach Melina Bourdeau at mbourdeau@recorder.com or 412-772-0261, ext. 263.


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