Country Before Self: Veterans Legacy

By Susan BushPrint Story | Email Story
U.S. Air Force Reserve Major Bruce Shepley
North Adams - The service and sacrifice of military veterans are front and center of the social consciousness of many young people, according to several Drury High School students who participated during this morning's Veteran's Day parade and ceremony. "I'm Proud Of Him" "I think Veterans' Day is important," said Kelsey Hanlon, a 17-year-old high school senior."The veterans are the reason we are all standing here today. My cousin just came back from Baghdad and I'm proud of him." Kelsey's 14-year-old sister Allison Hanlon agreed and said she hoped for a strong show of community support during the Veterans Day ceremony. "The veterans fought for this country and put their lives on the line," she said. "People should come out to watch the parade." All veterans deserve respect and appreciation for their efforts on behalf of the country, said 14-year-old Sarah Moulton of North Adams. The troops serving in Iraq today opted for military service and that choice is worthy of deep admiration, she said. Janessa Bethoney, 17, of Stamford, Vt. said that her family recently welcomed an uncle home from Kuwait. He is very happy to be home, she said. "I feel proud that someone from my family went and served for us," she said. Conflict Puts Respect At The Forefront The Iraq conflict has generated an abundance of support from most citizens, said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Michael P. Hynes, who was the keynote speaker during the city's formal ceremony. "It's unfortunate that it takes a conflict to bring that out," Hynes said during an interview prior to the ceremony."When nothing is going on, people tend to put that respect away. It takes a conflict for people to bring it out." Hynes is a 25-year military veteran and said that military service has "good days and bad days." "But there are more good days," he said. "You have to remember that you are doing something important." Hynes presented Frank R. Stiles American Legion Post 125 Commander Thomas Lussier and past Commander Dennis St. Pierre with two certificates of appreciation at the Veterans' Day ceremony. Both certificates acknowledged the commitment of the American Legion to veterans, Hynes said during the presentation. Welcoming Troops Back Home Frank R. Stiles American Legion Post 125 Finance Officer William Schrade is a Vietnam era veteran who served with the U.S. Navy. "The thing I'm glad to see is that we are making a big deal when the troops come home," he said. "In my time [troops] were the lowest of the low. I'm glad to see these people getting recognition. They are risking their lives. [Veterans] all did." U.S. Air Force Reserve Major Bruce Shepley is a veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Shepley is a nurse at the North Adams Regional Hospital. "I think of myself as an active reservist doing the job," he said. "I'm proud to do the job. I think of veterans as people who put their country before themselves." Veterans Programs Seeking Federal Funds American Legion Executive Committee member James Army spoke during the ceremony. Army told those gathered at the Veterans Memorial Park that city residents show tremendous respect to veterans. "It is the citizens who must remember Memorial and Veterans Day," he said "Every year when I come back here, the crowd gets bigger and bigger, and that's why I come back." Army spoke passionately in support of proposed national legislation that would create a Constitutional amendment against desecration of the American flag. He also pledged that the American Legion would continue to lobby for mandatory federal funding of veterans programs. Speaking after the ceremony, Army said that the funds must be included in the federal budget. "That mandatory funding has to get in, it just does," he said. "We need it to be mandatory, a line item, especially now with all these kids coming back with injuries. The injuries in Iraq are horrendous and these veterans need services." Susan Bush may be reached via e-mail at suebush@iberkshires.com or at 802-823-0367.
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