Veterans honored in Athol ceremonies 

  • Two members of Legion Riders Chapter 102 flank a fellow veteran as they listen to state Rep. Susannah Whipps during Veterans Day ceremonies in Athol. PHOTO BY GREG VINE

  • State Rep. Susannah Whipps was the featured speaker at Athol's Veterans Day event. PHOTO BY GREG VINE

  • Members of the Marine Corps League present the colors during the playing of the National Anthem. From left, Gary Williams, Barney Cummings and Mark Ellis. PHOTO BY GREG VINE

  • Patriotic 8-year-old Lucca Maroni of Athol was decked out in military style camo as he honored area veterans during Veterans Day ceremonies at Town Hall. PHOTO BY GREG VINE

For the Athol Daily News
Published: 11/12/2022 10:39:26 PM
Modified: 11/12/2022 10:39:24 PM

ATHOL — Several dozen people, including veterans and family members, active duty military personnel, and friends gathered in Memorial Hall at Athol Town Hall Friday to mark the 75th official celebration of what is now known as Veterans Day. Between 1919 and 1947, November was generally known as Armistice Day, marking the day in 1918 when the hostilities of World War I came to an end.

Before the gathering at Memorial Hall, members of the local Veterans Council gathered for flag-raising ceremonies at the Vietnam Veterans Park on Starrett Avenue, Phillips Park, which is across the street from the Uptown Common, and VFW Park, near Athol’s YMCA.

After the playing of the national anthem, American Legion Post 102 Commander Brian Dodge introduced Chaplain Peter Newman for the opening prayer.

“God, we ask you to protect all the men and women of our armed forces, at home and abroad,” Newman said. “Defend them day and night … Strengthen them and give them the courage to do their jobs well. Be there for them when they are tired and weary and bring them home safely to their families.”

Newman was followed by state Rep. Susannah Whipps, I-Athol, the day’s featured speaker.

“Veterans,” she said, “are represented by men and women of every economic, ethnic, and religious background. They come from every part of this great country, yet the are bound by one solemn commitment; to defend our nation – with their lives, if called upon.

“Military service is not for the faint of heart. Most civilian jobs do not require you to risk life or limb. No other occupation subjects employees to criminal charges for disobeying their boss. Unlike members of the military, civilians can work where they want, and can quit whenever they want.”

The lawmaker said while Massachusetts is a leader in providing mental health services for veterans, more needs to be done.

“Transitional challenges, the stress of military life, the feelings of isolation all lead to a suicide rate among veterans that is more than 50 percent higher than for non-veteran adults,” said Whipps. “The stigma of seeking help needs to end. If we are going to stop suicide, we must look at the issue much differently than we have in years past. Veterans know courage, and it takes courage to ask for help.”

Whipps said a national helpline for veterans seeking assistance has recently undergone some changes.

“The national helpline still works,” she explained, “but now it’s an even shorter number; it’s 988. We teacher our children 911, and they know what it’s for. We as adults and supporters of our veterans need to know 988. When you call that number, extension 1 is specifically for veterans. By calling 988 when things get difficult, perhaps we can prevent a 911 call later.”

Whipps also noted that efforts are under way to see the establishment of a veterans treatment court in Gardner. Currently, veterans in North Quabbin who face misdemeanor criminal charges must travel to Holyoke, Framingham, or four other distant locations to have their cases considered in a veterans court.

In closing, Whipps quoted Gen. Douglas MacArthur: “The soldier, above all other people, prays for peace.”

Organizations participating in Friday’s ceremonies included Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 340, Disabled American Veterans Chapter 46, AMVETS Post 793, American Legion Post 102, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 650; and Pequoig Detachment 1168 Marine Corps League.

Greg Vine can be reached at 

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