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'A Veteran's Trilogy': Poem Highlights Pittsfield Service

Credit Jim Levulis / WAMC

Like many around the country, Pittsfield, Massachusetts residents are honoring veterans this week for their service to our country. On this day, one veteran’s moving poem highlighted the city’s Veterans Day Parade.Patriot Guard and American Legion Riders led the procession down North Street in Pittsfield, followed closely by the Pittsfield High School Marching Band.

The procession approached Park Square, where 500 American flags stand flying. Two simple orange and black signs with the words ‘Thank You’ stood out among those cheering and waving red, white and blue flags. Holding one of those signs was Greta Valuski, who owns nearby Berkshire Print Shop.

“We printed these out last year as a way to thank them and they seemed to really enjoy it,” Valuski said. “They thanked us which was odd because we were there to thank them for their service.”

The ceremony at the city’s Peace Memorial featured Marine veteran Mike Ancora.

“This is a history lesson, more or less,” Ancora began. “It’s a history lesson that you won’t find in your textbooks. But it’s a history lesson that lives in the hearts and memories of many here today.”

For the first time in public, Ancora read his poem, ‘A Veteran’s Trilogy.’ It started with World War II.

“It took a lot of battles to get to Berlin-town and it took a lot of causalities to bring the Third Reich down,” Ancora read. “It took a lot of fortitude to bring it to an end and 70 years of healing to say ‘Never again.’ While out in the Pacific it was coming to an end and we did what we had to do to save one million men. Though some of you feel guilty that we would do such things, we did it for a country that still lets freedom ring.”

By the time the poem touched on the Korean War, those encircling the Peace Memorial were intensely focused on what this veteran had to say.

“But if there is a legacy of the forgotten war, we sowed the seeds of freedom on another foreign shore,” continued Ancora.

Ancora’s final verse took listeners into the souls of men who returned from Vietnam – to little fanfare from the public they had sworn to protect.

“For the only thanks we ever got for answering the call, our only recognition are some names upon a wall,” Ancora read. “But if there is a time or place where I feel good inside and if there is a time or place where I can feel some pride, if there is a time or place where it was worth it all, is when I hold my hands upon those names up on a wall.”

In his poem, Ancora said some veterans never got the thanks they deserved, but many who heard his words on this Veterans Day showed their appreciation.

Meanwhile, the Berkshire Veterans Coalition honored Navy vet James Riddle as its Veteran of the Year for nearly three decades of service with VFW Post 448.

Jim is WAMC’s Associate News Director and hosts WAMC's flagship news programs: Midday Magazine, Northeast Report and Northeast Report Late Edition. Email: jlevulis@wamc.org
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