Whitman and Hanson honored veterans with a parade and recognition breakfasts spanning a weekend of gratitude for service to country.
The Hanson Multi-Service Senior Center kicked things off on Thursday, Nov. 10 with a breakfast ceremony that also saluted the 241st anniversary of the founding of the U.S. Marine Corps at Philadelphia’s Tun Tavern on Nov. 10, 1775.
Hanson Town Administrator Michael McCue and Selectmen James McGahan, Don Howard, Bill Scott and Bruce Young assisted Veterans’ Agent Bob Arsenault in distributing certificates of appreciation to the community’s veterans and widows.
“In the town of Hanson, we support our veterans,” Arsenault said. “One of the ways we do it is with our annual Veterans Day Breakfast.”
Arsenault also continued a tradition he began last year — thanking the women on the homefront who supported their boyfriends or husbands serving in war zones overseas.
Karen Sharon, president of the Friends of the Hanson Senior Center presented Director Mary Collins with a tablet computer to aid veterans in recording their oral histories. An application allows World War II veterans to record their answers to questions about their wartime service. The recordings will then be downloaded to the national WWII Museum in New Orleans and played for visitors to hear.
“WWII was one of the most devastating conflicts in the history of mankind,” Sharon said. “It spread across multiple continents and cost millions of lives. … To assure that people know what happened and how men and women who served dealt with it at the time, an app has been developed that will allow the WWII veterans to tell their own story in their own words for all of posterity to hear.”
Collins thanked the Friends group for the donation and for organizing the day’s event, which also featured a WWI-related gift to the town from Young.
“We will start with our WWII veterans and then hopefully continue into Korea and let’s hope we stop somewhere,” Collins said of the oral history project.
Young’s gift was a framed panoramic photo taken at Camp Devens in 1918 of Plymouth County from the Massachusetts 4th Division — soldiers just returned from the battlefields of Europe, which he presented to Arsenault for the town. The 4th Division was part of the 26th Infantry Yankee Division, the first U.S. soldiers sent to Europe in WWI.
The photo had belonged to former Hanson Veteran’s Agent Bob Baresel as part of his grandfather’s memorabilia, which Baresel had passed along to Young, who was a member of the Historical Society. Young, in turn, gave all but the photo to the Historical Society.
Arsenault also read Gov. Charlie Baker’s Veterans Day Proclamation and McGahan presented U.S. and POW/MIA flags to Collins for the Senior Center and the Swingin’ Singers performed a selection of patriotic music.
On Friday, Nov. 11, the Tri-Town Veterans Day Parade took a new route through Whitman. The parade stepped off from the former Regal Shoe factory site under a brilliant sunny sky, making its way along South Avenue to the Legion post on Legion Parkway.
Sponsored this year by American Legion Post 22, the parade was dedicated to the veterans of Operation Desert Storm from Aug. 2, 1990 to Feb. 28, 1991. This year marked the 25th anniversary of that war’s end.
Bands from Boston and Brockton were joined by high school bands from Whitman-Hanson, Rockland and Abington, area town government and public safety officials, state leaders, veterans, Scout groups, the First Mass. Vol. Cavalry, fire engines and vintage vehicles.
The parade Grand Marshall was Past Post Commander and Adjutant Paul Tracey of Whitman American Legion Post 22, along with co-marshalls, Charles Kimball of Rockland, a Navy veteran of Korea, and James Valler, a Navy veteran of WWII.
Hanson’s Calvary Baptist Church concluded the weekend’s events by hosting a Thank You Breakfast for veterans and first responders from area communities. To-go meals were delivered to on-duty police officers and firefighters as well as veterans in poor health. Tables in the church fellowship hall were decorated in red, white and blue, featuring hand-made thank-you cards from the students in the Good News Bible Club at Whitman’s Conley School.