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President Lincoln joins the Memorial Day Parade in Hancock along with a replica Civil War cannon. Several towns held their observances the day before the Monday holiday.

Clarksburg World War II Casualty Coming Home; Towns Hold Memorial Services

By Tammy Daniels & Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
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Clarksburg holds memorial service with students from Clarksburg School reading the Gettysburg Address and 'In Flanders Fields.' See more photos here. 
CLARKSBURG, Mass. — Erwin Shaftsbury King's ambition was to join the Marines and six weeks after Pearl Harbor, he was on his way to Parris Island.
 
King was a graduate of the town's old Center School and Drury High in North Adams. He'd seemed to have an affinity for adventure and difficulty — not only his desire to rush to arms for his country but his unexpected arrival when the family car broke down on Aug. 11, 1924, in the Vermont town that gave him his middle name.
 
He apparently excelled during basic training, earning medals for bayonet work, shooting and jiu jitsu. He'd hoped for leave in March to visit family but was shipped out immediately to the Pacific, at least that's where his family assumed he was.
 
King wrote intermittently but couldn't tell his parents, Erwin C. and Emelia LaFountain King of West Road, where he was or what he was doing.  
 
In October, they got a letter that so many parents would come to dread — their son, Marine Private 1st Class Edwin S. King, had been killed in action on Sept. 24, 1942. Later they would learn their son had been killed in an ambush during the Battle of Guadalcanal, the first major campaign against the Empire of Japan.
 
A year later they would receive his posthumous Purple Heart. 
 
In the 1942 town report the dedication to him reads, "Today he rests with honor on a sandy sunlit coral reef in a farflung corner of the tropics." That sandy island was supposed to be temporary but King never came home. There were two failed attempts in the 1940s to recover him and nine other comrades who perished.
 
Mitchell Kiel, a Marine and the district veterans agent for Clarksburg, North Adams and seven other communities, said he'd gotten a call from King's niece in New Hampshire. They'd found her uncle but there were only a few members of the family left and she was afraid that no one would attend his funeral.
 
"I said, 'Ma'am, I know a lot of veterans in the area and I can assure there will be more than three of them there,'" he told the Memorial Day gathering on Sunday morning at Town Hall. 
 
"After 82 years, Erwin Shaftsbury King is finally coming home. And on Sept. 24, he will be buried in Southview Cemetery next to his parents," Kiel said. "They had enough faith and hope that one day their son would come home that they purchased a spot in the family plot for him to rest in peace."
 
King was barely 18 when he became the first in North County killed in the war; in May 1945, the former North Adams Transcript would note 120 men killed in action, 24 missing, and 52 prisoners of war. That 1942 town report was dedicated to King and the 91 others under arms.
 
Other speakers included Joseph Bushika and Joseph Burnett, who both offered some somber statistics of the toll paid during the nation's wars, from more than 75,000 casualties in the American Revolution to more than 47,000 in Vietnam. 
 
Town Administrator Carl McKinney and Select Board Chair Robert Norcross spoke of the sacrifices made for freedom and the need to remember them, with Norcross also saying the American flag stands for all. 
 
Cecelia Kincaid rang the bell as Bushika read out the names of those from Clarksburg who lost their lives in service to the nation. Taia Byers, Addison Stanley and Madeline Putignano took turns reading the Gettysburg Address and the World War I poem "In Flanders Fields."
 
The Clarksburg Volunteer Fire Department was the color guard and the Drury band played patriotic numbers as well as taps and echo. 
 
 

Lanesborough remembers Air Force Staff Sgt. Jacob Galliher, killed last year in an aircraft crash during an exercise. See more photos here.
One of Berkshire County's most recent heroes was very much on the minds of attendees at Lanesborough's Memorial Day services on Sunday afternoon.
 
The family of Air Force Staff Sgt. Jacob Galliher marched in the parade, and Galliher's sacrifice for the nation was recognized by the Northern Berkshire veterans services officer.
 
"As many of you know, this past November, an Air Force CV-22 Osprey took off from Yokota Air Base in Japan, carrying eight airmen," Mitchell Keil told the crowd gathered in Center Cemetery after the parade. "The tilt-rotor aircraft would crash, and those eight airmen aboard would be killed. One of these men was Staff Sgt. Jacob Galliher, born and raised in Berkshire County. He now lays at rest in Mountain View Cemetery, only 1,500 feet from here. Several weeks ago, I had the opportunity to sit with his mother and stepfather, and this morning, I met his widow and small children. Their lives are forever changed, and they will honor Jake and those other seven airmen every day.
 
"I implore you to do the same. Take time, every day, to remember those that have lost their lives in service to our country."
 
Keil told the crowd that he's OK with the Memorial Day weekend doubling as the "unofficial start of summer," as long as its true meaning is not lost. And he reminded listeners that for some people, it is hard to find any joy on such a solemn occasion.
 
He also shared a personal anecdote to drive home that point.
 
"This past weekend, my daughter and I shared a special moment I don't think she'll ever remember," he said, indicating the toddler who played at his feet as he delivered his remarks. "We were placing flags at Southview Cemetery, and the first flag she ever placed at a veteran's marker was that of her Vietnam-era grandfather, as I watched my eyes begin to well with tears — as they are now.
 
"After the meeting with Jake's parents and learning of his family, I couldn't help but feel sorry for his young children, who will have to place that flag on their father's grave every year."
 
In addition to the Galliher family, which is opening a new coffee shop, Jake's Java, at 20 Williamstown Road on June 15, the parade included town officials, a color guard from Dalton American Legion Post 155, the Mount Greylock Regional School band, Shriner's International and first responders from Lanesborough, New Ashford and Hancock.
 
 

Hancock held a parade with tractors and cannons on Sunday. More photos here. 
First responders from New Ashford, Stephentown, N.Y., and New Lebanon, N.Y., the Mount Greylock Regional School band, community groups from around town, Shriners on little cars and local farmers on big tractors participated in the Hancock's parade down Main Street and up Route 43 to the town cemetery.
 
Retired Hancock Fire Chief and veteran Dave Rash carried the flag at the start of the parade and served as master of ceremonies at the cemetery, where remembrances included the raising of the American flag, taps, a rifle salute and an invocation from the Fire Department chaplain.
 
Rash spoke both about the history of Memorial Day and spirit of the holiday to a large crowd gathered among the grave markers, many of which were decorated with small American flags.
 
"We look at the definition of freedom, the quality or state of being free, the absence of coercion in choice or action. Independence," Rash said. "Our task is not to validate the sacrifice that was made but to acknowledge it. To remember that it was made. We should do so, not out of guilt, but we should do it with humility.
 
"If any validation is necessary, it is for we, the living, to prove that we are worthy of the sacrifice through dedication toward the peace that was purchased by these honored dead. Memorial Day reminds us about patriotism. And, without patriotism, we would have no heroes."

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North Adams Council OKs $49M Budget for Fiscal 2025

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The City Council on Tuesday approved a $48,891,455 fiscal 2025 budget, up $1,481,385 or 3.12 percent over this year. 
 
The budget includes a school budget of $20,357,096, up $302,744 or 1.51 percent over this year. 
 
The major drivers are the general increases in the cost of supplies, utilities and insurance; a 2 percent cost of living raise for nonunion employees; upgrades in software and equipment; reclassifications of several positions and additional clerical staff. 
 
Mayor Jennifer Macksey provided the city budget, school budget, compensation and classification plan and capital improvement plan in a bound document with summaries and graphs explaining expenditures. 
 
Finance Committee members recommended the total to the full City Council, calling it "fiscally responsible."
 
Councilor Keith Bona, Finance chair, said committee members did raise objections or concerns during deliberations, particularly Councilor Andrew Fitch over the lack of a city planner and Councilor Ashley Shade over the need for more building maintenance. Shade voted against the public safety budget Tuesday over that issue.
 
"The majority did support each department recommending it to the council and again, there were some some minor changes between the draft budget and what's in front of us," he said. 
 
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