Staff Sgt. Louis Beveraggi of North Adams speaks at the ceremony at the American Legion.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — More than 3,400 wreaths were laid at the gravestones of the city's veterans on Saturday to honor their memory.
Dozens of volunteers at Southview Cemetery braved the rainy day to set wreaths and speak the names of the veterans interred there or to simply say, "Thank you for your service."
Staff Sgt. Louis Beveraggi, keynote speaker for the event, said he participated in last year's Wreaths Across America and recalled the emotions he had felt.
"I had that feeling like, as I'm passing wreaths, and I'm not trying to rush, to take that moment and just kind of reflect on my time in service and those that have served as well," he said. "You know we have a great country here."
Wreaths Across America is an initiative to "remember the fallen, honor those who serve, teach children the value of freedom." The local effort has been coordinated for the past two years by Donna Engels and Donna Whitcomb, who have raised thousands of dollars to make it successful. An estimated 200 people total — from senior citizens to Boy Scouts — were on hand to help lay the wreaths.
The downpour forecast for Saturday eased up enough for the volunteers at Southview, Hill Side, Blackinton and St. Joseph's cemeteries to unpack the boxes and boxes of wreaths delivered on Friday for the event. The rain and warmer weather also made the cemeteries much more accessible after last week's nearly 2 feet of snow.
But it was enough to move the noon ceremony from the Veterans Memorial to American Legion Post 125, where there was a presentation of the colors, a patriotic performance by the Drury High School band and a ceremonial laying of wreaths for each branch of the military.
Beveraggi, a 20-year member of the Vermont National Guard, was born in Lynn but grew up in North Adams and attended what was then North Adams State College. He spent two tours overseas, first for 18 months in Iraq, including in Ramadi, which he described as Hell, and the second in 2010 in Afghanistan.
"It never dawned on me that I was following something of a time-honored tradition that my uncles had done — Vietnam veterans — and then, also, my grandfather was a Korean War veteran," he said, adding that war changes your mindset on things.
"When I got home from Iraq, I realized how beautiful Berkshire County is. I never took the time in my life to say hey, this is just beautiful here," Beveraggi said. "When you go into war and come back, they say you lose a little bit of yourself. But then it opens up other doors ... what I mean by that is, I come home, I volunteer a lot, I volunteer for veterans."
Sometimes it's a having a cup of coffee with a fellow veteran, and other times its a more somber duty, such as a call he got from a family to put flowers on the graves of a father and a son who both served. So he took his daughters with him to find the gravestones.
"My daughters are like why are you in your dress uniform and I explain to them that it's about respect," Beveraggi said.
Impressing upon the youth the price of freedom is a central aspect to the initiative. The Rev. William Cyr of St. Elizabeth of Hungary Church said, "we need to be constantly reminded of freedom, and those who gave their all to make sure that we in future generations continue to know life in a free society ...
"Remembering those who have passed is only part of the task that is before us. We must also carry their love, their dedication, their honor and their duty forward into the future. Our children must know who they were, what they did, and why they did it. To do less, would be a disservice to their sacrifice and to their memories that we honor today."
Amy Christian, once again the master of ceremonies, said more than 1,700 sites were participating in the memorial.
"We are all proud to be Americans that live in a free society, made up of many people from many walks of life, the freedoms we enjoy today have not come without a price," she said. "We thank those who gave their lives to keep us free, and we shall not forget you. We shall remember."
iBerkshires.com welcomes critical, respectful dialogue; please keep comments focused on the issues and not on personalities. Profanity, obscenity, racist language and harassment are not allowed. iBerkshires reserves the right to ban commenters or remove commenting on any article at any time. Concerns may be sent to email@example.com.
iBerkshires.com welcomes critical, respectful dialogue. Name-calling, personal attacks, libel, slander or foul language is not allowed. All comments are reviewed before posting and will be deleted or edited as necessary.
Berkshire Food Project Recognizes Hours Put in by Volunteers
By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
Three generations of volunteers with Linda Palumbo, left, Cindy Bolte, Alicia Rondeau and Cassandra Shoestack.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Five days a week a troop volunteers helps the small staff of the Berkshire Food Project feed hundreds of people.
On Monday night, the tables were turned.
More than 30 volunteers and attending family members were served up a choice of beef wellington and potato, salmon and rice, or a vegetarian meal, along with appetizers, dessert and beverages.
"Just from 2018 to 2019, [we served] 10,000 more meals, right, a 28 percent increase in 2019. So the numbers on the stove, same amount of counterspace. The only thing that changed is the capacity of our volunteers. So thank you, guys," said Executive Director Kim McMann.
The volunteers have been crucial in making that happen, she said, and thanked them for rolling with the changes the organization has implemented — some of which have worked and some that have not.
click for more
Mark Steele-Knudslien, 49, pleaded guilty on Thursday in Berkshire Superior Court to second-degree murder in the death of his wife. Judge John Agostini sentenced him to life in state prison, with parole eligibility in 25 years.
click for more
After a few days in the icebox, temperatures will be turning above freezing going into the weekend and there's a chance of snow — or more likely rain, as a storm system moves north of the Berkshires.
click for more
The Finance Committee took a tour of the building on Tuesday afternoon to get a better sense of the condition of the J. Stanley Sullivan Elementary School as the City Council has been weighing an offer on the property made more than two months ago.
click for more