Springfield Commemorates Memorial Day
Memorial Day observances are under way in western Massachusetts,where the holiday weekend will feature parades and solemn ceremonies.
The city of Springfield commemorated Memorial Day Friday afternoon with an annual ceremony under an overcast sky. After short speeches on the steps of city hall, a group of elected officials and military veterans placed wreaths at the five war memorials across the street in Court Square. The procession was led by JROTC color guards from each of the city’s four high schools.
The program was organized by the city’s Veterans Services Department. Veterans Services Director Tom Belton said it was intended to honor the people he called Springfield’s “real heroes.”
Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno said the city’s Memorial Day observance is an important tradition.
"Take time to say a prayer for those who have given the ultimate sacrifice," Mayor Sarno urged the crowd.
Court Square, the small park in the center of Springfield’s downtown has permanent memorials to the Civil War, World Wars I and II, the Korean War, and Vietnam. There is also a memorial to the U.S. Marine Corps.
Congressman Richard Neal said it is a place where he often goes to reflect.
" To walk through Court Square we should always understand that in some way everyday is Memorial Day."
Springfield City Councilor Kateri Walsh said military service runs deep in her family. One of her sons is a third generation member of the Marine Corps.
"It is so important to the family members and those who have served to make sure they are remembered."
After placing a wreath at the Vietnam memorial, Gumersindo Gomez snapped to attention and saluted as tears came to his eyes.
" I am a Vietnam combat veteran and I saw my friends give it all for what we believe. It is still with me and will stay with me until the day I die."
In Chicopee, Mayor Richard Kos on Friday proclaimed the city as a Purple Heart City,a designation from the Military Order of the Purple Heart to honor municipalities for outstanding service to veterans.