On the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month, the guns stopped between the Allied Nations and Germany, marking the end of WWI in 1918. Since then, America has continued to remember that day in honor of all veterans who have served the United States.
For the first time yesterday morning, hundreds of families, friends, veterans, politicians and supporters came to The Gardens of Gethsemane in West Roxbury to remember veterans, as well as to honorably retire old and tattered American flags. It was a brisk morning and the wind occasionally snatched the notes of a speaker or two, but the weather did not deter attendees or affect the solemn, celebratory mood of the morning.
Mary Mulvey Jacobson, president of the West Roxbury Business and Professional Association, emceed the event. The flag retirement portion of the ceremony was conducted by the Boy Scout Troops 1, 5 and 7 of West Roxbury and Boy Scout Troop 7 of Roslindale.
Four American flags ready for retirement were briefly raised so they could be saluted for the last time. After the flags were lowered, they were burned in a dignified manner.
US Senator Scott Brown, R-Massachusetts, a 32-year member of the National Guard was not present at the ceremony, but there was not doubt among attendees that he understood the importance of Veterans Day. Maria Coakley, a member of Brown’s staff, read a statement on his behalf.
“When our soldiers are many miles away, fighting to protect this country, the American flag serves as a poignant reminder of our nation and all that it stands for,” stated Brown. “.... To all of the veterans here today, thank you for your service and for allowing us to live in peace and safety in America.”
State Sen. Mike Rush, D-West Roxbury, was also not in attendance present, but that was understood. Last year, shortly after his election, Rush was deployed to serve in Iraq. His chief of staff John Regan shared that Rush is expected to return around Christmas time. In a statement read by Regan, Rush shared his sentiment of the American flag as public servant and soldier.
“The beautiful thing about the American flag is that although a flag may grow tattered and worn with age, the country it stands for grows ever stronger and has emboldened the patriotism of its citizens,” stated Rush.
State Rep. Ed Coppinger, D-West Roxbury, acknowledged that one of the highest numbers of people who need jobs and housing in the state of Massachusetts are veterans. To him, everday should be Veterans Day.
“We should not forget,” said Coppinger. “We should do everything we can to pay these veterans back.”
Bill and Louise Lewis of Norwood came to the ceremony in honor of the holiday, as well as to hear soloist Demetrios Tsaniklides Jr., sing “Proud to Be an American.” Bill, a retired colonel, served in the Gulf War.
“What a way to honor the men and women who fought so hard for our freedoms,” said Bill. I hope this tradition continues for years to come.”