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Veterans Service Officer John Herrera on Monday leads the annual Pearl Harbor remembrance ceremony.

Pittsfield Veterans Remember Pearl Harbor in Annual Ceremony

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff
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Robert Blanchard tells those attending the ceremony that thinking back on the sacrifices at Pearl Harbor the nation can endure a little bit of sacrifice during the pandemic. 
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — About 80 servicemen from Berkshire County were stationed at or near Pearl Harbor when it was attacked 79 years ago, including more than 40 from Dalton and Pittsfield. 
Two of them were killed during the surprise strike by the Imperial Japanese Navy. 
Veterans Service Officer John Herrera on Monday led the annual remembrance ceremony at the Veterans Memorial Park on South Street to mark the anniversary of the Dec. 7 attack that lead to America's entrance into World War II.
Veteran Ron Rousseau read the names of Dalton and Pittsfield residents who were killed or present at the naval base in Honolulu or the nearby airfield and veteran George Moran read the speech that President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivered in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 8, 1941, just one day after the attack.
The first casualty was Petty Officer 3rd Class Roman W. Sadlowski, an electrician's mate.  He died at the age of 18 on the USS Oklahoma, which was struck by multiple Japanese torpedoes and sunk.
The second casualty was 1st. Sgt. of the Army Air Forces, who was severely wounded the morning of Pearl Harbor and died several days later at the age of 24. He was attached to a squadron that had arrived in Hawaii only two days prior to the attack.
This year, a 4th-grade teacher at Williams Elementary School, MaryEllen Henley, had her students write letters to the veterans, thanking them for their service and telling them how their sacrifices have affected their lives.
"My students and I would like to thank you for your brave service to our country," Henley wrote. "We understand that serving our country requires a great personal sacrifice on your part. You are separated from friends and family for long periods of time and you risk getting hurt. You do this for all of us so we can live in such a beautiful, free country. We are very grateful for all you have done for us, we hope you are treated like royalty because you deserve it. Thank you."
Hererra also read the letters from Henley's class.
"I would like to take a moment to say thank you to all of the veterans who served our country. Thank you for freedom and justice. May your work pay off," a student named Nicole wrote.
"Thank you, veterans, I'm honored to have you serve for this country," wrote another student, Oliver. "You have been so thoughtful to do such a deadly job to protect all of us. Stay safe and healthy."
For one student, this letter hit home because his father is a veteran.
"Dear veterans, I'm so grateful that you have protected us in the United States," he wrote. "My dad is a veteran, he served in the United States Marines for 20 years."
Herrera welcomed Navy Cmdr. Robert Blanchard as a guest speaker at the event. Blanchard was born in Dallas and enlisted in the Navy in 1994.
Blanchard's awards include the Navy Commendation Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal, and a Gold Star in Lieu of Second Award for the Meritorious Service Medal.
In June, Blanchard was relieved as commanding officer of Program Management Office Strategic Systems Program's shipboard systems in Pittsfield and now resides in Lanesborough with his wife and four children.
Blanchard said that as the United States remembers the great sacrifices of those in Pearl Harbor, perhaps Americans can find a bit of extra strength to endure the little bit of sacrifice the COVID-19 pandemic has brought and hope that 2021 brings a better time for everyone.
"Looking back to 79 years ago," he said. "We can take solace in knowing that despite the challenges we face, our great nation can overcome anything."
The event concluded with veteran Joseph DeFilippo conducting the taps and a holiday tree being lit in honor of veterans.

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County Gets More Walk-In Clinics, Pittsfield OKs Special Event Permits

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — More walk-in vaccination clinics are scheduled this week and the city of Pittsfield has issued 37 special permits for now permitted special events and is seeing hope on the horizon for summer.

During Mayor Linda Tyer's bi-monthly COVID-19 update to the City Council, she reported that the Berkshire Vaccine Collaborative has implemented two new strategies to expand access for vaccinations: walk-in clinics and pop-up clinics.

At the county's first walk-in clinic at Berkshire Community College last week, 177 doses were administered in three hours. Another clinic was held on Monday at BCC and walk-in clinics will be held on Thursday in North County and on Saturday in South County.

Additionally, a pop-up clinic is scheduled for Thursday at the Christian Center in Pittsfield from 11 to 2 and the Berkshire Vaccine Collaborative continues to seek out other locations that will hold pop-up clinics.

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