The American Legion Post 152 gave a 21-gun salute to honor Veterans Day.
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The local American Legion's past and current members of the armed forces were the focus of Veterans Day ceremonies at Richard Reuther Post 152 on Sunday morning.
After ceremonies featuring a 21-gun salute on the lawn of the post's Spring Street home, Post Commander Kevin P. Hamel shared a little news with about four dozen veterans, family members and friends who gathered in the post's upstairs meeting room.
"Around July, I got a call from Lawrence Miller, the grandson of Richard Reuther," Hamel said.
Miller, who lives in Connecticut, wanted to share a piece of his family's history with the institution that bears his family's name.
"He said, 'I'd like to come up and meet you and present you with my mother's flag,' " Hamel said. "His mother was Patricia Miller, the daughter of Richard Reuther."
And she was a veteran herself, having served in the U.S. Navy during World War II, Hamel said.
Her father was a World War I veteran who raised a family on Spring Street while helping his fellow veterans "through the maze that is the Veterans Administration," Hamel said.
In addition to his mother's American flag, Miller gave the Williamstown Legion post a framed family photo from its days in Williamstown. Both now will be prominently displayed on the first floor of the post, Hamel said.
Sunday's ceremonies included a 21-gun salute by a post honor guard, a performance of the National Anthem by Mount Greylock Regional High School student Arianna Bashara and an invocation by post chaplain Dick McCarthy.
McCarthy asked God to bless all of the nation's veterans, living and deceased, and asked the audience to remember those "soon-to-be veterans" currently serving in the armed forces.
The latter also were the focus of remarks by veteran Howard Carter, who spoke to the gathering after Hamel's discussion of the Miller/Reuther family's bequest.
Hamel used the backdrop of the recently completed Presidential campaign to discuss how our men and women in uniform serve the nation without respect or thought of partisan politics.
"(The) veterans in uniform with whom I served during my 22 years of service never focused on political differences," Carter said. "They never publicly stated political positions while in uniform. They never used the uniform for a cause other than service to our great Republic."
Carter contrasted that ethic of national service with the divisiveness at home that sometimes leaves those soldiers and sailors feeling a lack of support.
Citing a car he recently saw in North County, Carter noted an ironic juxtaposition of causes.
"On display just inches below 'Save Darfur' were bumper stickers reading 'Stop American Imperialism' and 'End Wars,'" Carter said. "This naive delusional contradiction hit me with a jaded familiarity; veterans have an understand of how the odd disparity and American desire to stop oppression with minimal violence can put our military into harm's way, and that the public's second guessing begins before boots even hit the ground... Such is service in a democracy."
Carter also talked about the often forgotten non-fighting missions that service people provide, pointing out relief efforts during disasters at home -- like Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy — and abroad — as during the Asian tsunami.
"On Veterans Day, we all remember that our nation's armed forces, while certainly capable of making mistakes borne of both policy and human fallibility, are indeed a force for good that provides massive amounts of comforts to those in need," Carter said.
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