Americans need to welcome back the men and women who are serving in the military, said Marilyn Devaney at Friday’s Veterans Day ceremony. At the same time, people have to be sympathetic to what these servicemen and women have gone through and how they adjust to being back home.
Devaney, a member of the Governor's Council, gave the keynote address at the Watertown Veterans Day ceremony held at the held at the AMVETS Post 41 hall.
The transition out of the service can be difficult, Devaney said.
“You cannot expect a soldier to return home (from war) to just ‘snap out of it,’” Devaney said. “They need to be welcomed back into the community one-by-one.”
On this Veterans Day, Devaney remembered a friend who passed away recently, a man who served in World War II and survived the Battle of the Bulge.
Dan Martini had only arrived in the United Sates from his native Italy six months earlier when the Army drafted him, Devaney said.
He ended up back in Italy during his time in Europe and at one point got separated from his unit. Eventually, he found a group of American soldiers.
Convincing the soldiers that he was actually in the U.S. Army, not a local Italian, was no simple task, Martini discovered. Finally, the one of the soldiers said, “So, what’s the password?”
“[Martini] said, in his very broken English, ‘Pitts-a-burg!’” Devaney said.
Many of Devaney’s relations have served in the military, she said. On her husband’s side, between himself, his brothers, a sister and son, the Devaneys served in the five branches of the military: Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force and the Coast Guard.
Due to those connections, Devaney said she was honored to be the guest speaker at the Watertown Veterans Day ceremony.
District D Town Councilor Angeline Kounelis said she wanted to pay tribute to the service men and women and what they have protected.
“We should honor them and thank them for what they have done for our country and the entire world,” Kounelis said. “They have made it a better place for generations to come.”
The POW-MIA flag was added to the flags flying in the House Chambers on Beacon Hill, said State Rep. and State Senate Candidate Jonathan Hecht.
“The message that the POW-MIA flag conveys is ‘You will not be forgotten,’” Hecht said.
Hecht said he would work in the State House to make sure veterans get the help they need.
“We will not forget, that is my commitment to you,” Hecht said.