Veterans Day, 2016: Bedford’s Observance

Dozens of small flags in memory of colleagues, relatives and friends were placed in Veterans’ Memorial Wreaths of Honor – Image (c) JMcCT, 2016 all rights reserved.

By Julie McCay Turner

Brigadier General James Voss, Ret., Adjutant of the Bedford American Legion, as the ceremony began – Image (c) JMcCT, 2016 all rights reserved

Clouds scudded across the bright sun, leaves swirled through the air, and flags snapped in the wind as Patriotic Ceremonies Committee chair Paul Purchia welcomed the community to Veterans Memorial Park for Bedford’s annual observance of Veterans Day.

Stepping off, the parade begins - Image (c) JMcCT, 2016 all rights reserved
The parade begins – Image (c) JMcCT, 2016 all rights reserved

Led by an Honor Guard of Bedford First Responders, the ceremony’s participants processed from the Minuteman statue, along the path to Veterans Memorial Park.

Newly re-elected State Representative Ken Gordon noted that the 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor will take place next month, and added his pride in continuing to honor the Veterans of World War II, along with those who have served in subsequent conflicts and wars. He appreciated Bedford’s connections to Hanscom Air Force Base and the Edith Nourse Rogers Veterans Administration Hospital. Gordon also spoke of organizations and places that offer opportunities for Veterans to gather and share their stories, an important part of healing from traumatic stress. Click here to read Representative Gordon’s remarks.

Click each image once and then again to view at full size – images (c) JMcCT, 2016 all rights reserved

Jon ‘OC’ O’Connor, commander of Bedford’s American Legion Post 221, recounted stories of two World War II veterans: Carl Johnson, a Tuskegee Airman who served his country for more than 30 years; and Grace Hopper, a brilliant woman who invented the programming language COBOL and ended her career as a Rear Admiral in the US Navy. Click here to read Commander O’Connor’s remarks.

In preparing for his remarks, Selectman Mike Rosenberg interviewed Bedford Green resident Arland Reynolds, a Billerica native who served during the Viet Nam War. Reynolds left active duty in 1968, but re-joined the Naval Reserve in 1982 to serve in the Seabees. After the loss of his wife and a series of serious family issues, Reynolds found himself without a home two years ago and dependent on the kindness of others. More than 50 years after his active service, he became one of the first Veterans to move into the newly-opened Bedford Green apartments, on the VA campus. He told Rosenberg, “This [apartment] is like heaven.” Click here to read Selectmen Rosenberg’s remarks.

Dozens of residents added small flags to the Veterans Memorial Wreath of Honor, to remember fallen comrades, family members and friends, including former Selectman Gordon Feltman.  Bedford High School’s Red Cross Club presented cribbage boards to the residents of Bedford Green, there was a 21-gun salute by BHS ROTC Jr. students. To close the program in traditional fashion, everyone sang God Bless America, Bedford ROTC students fired a 21-gun salute, and a pair of trumpeters from the BHS Marching Band played Taps.

Click each image once and then again to view at full size – images (c) JMcCT, 2016 all rights reserved

But that didn’t end Bedford’s observances.

In related Veterans Day activities on Saturday and Sunday, First Parish invited residents to view Restrepo, Sebastian Junger’s film about war in the Middle East; a service honoring Gold Star families took place at First Parish on Sunday morning; and Civil War re-enactors from the 54th Massachusetts Regiment presented a program co-sponsored by the Anthony-Hunt-Hamilton American Legion Post 221 and the Bedford Historical Society.


Civil War re-enactors from the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment posed with (l-r) Paul Purchia, Don Corey, OC O'Connor, and Rep. Ken Gordon in front of Bedford's American Legion post on Sunday afternoon - Image (c) JMcCT, 2016 all rights reserved
Civil War re-enactors from the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment (front, l-r) 1st Lt. Benny White and Sgt. Gerard Grimes flank American Legion Post 221 Commander Jon ‘OC’ O’Connor. Back row (l-r) Patriotic Ceremonies chair Paul Purchia, Bedford Historical Society president Don Corey, Pvt. Joe Zellner,, Hospital Steward Rey Bartlett, and Rep. Ken Gordon – Image (c) JMcCT, 2016 all rights reserved


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