By Dennis Hohenberger
Article Credit: MassLive
HOLYOKE – Navy Master Chief Chris Rodney reminded those gathered at the Veterans Day ceremony at the War Memorial Building of the tremendous sacrifices made to guarantee freedom.
Rodney, the main speaker at the United Veterans of Holyoke event on Monday, began his military career in the Marines and reenlisted in the Navy. He has served as a recruiter the last 16 years. He honored the legacy of Navy Chief Petty Officer John MacKenzie, a Holyoker awarded the Medal of Honor in World War I.
“If you read the stories of our forefathers had gone through to defend this great country and to allow us the freedoms we have is nothing short of spectacular,” Rodney said.
He reminded the audience of the difficulties and sacrifices service members make, leaving behind family and friends, with most still in their teens and twenties.
“When you make that commitment to serve your country, you are one of the few,” Rodney said. “There’s been nothing more fulfilling in my life than having the opportunity and the honor to serve the United States of America.”
Mayor Alex Morse, state Rep. Aaron Vega, D-Holyoke, and City Councilor Peter Tallman spoke about the dedication of service members and their families.
Morse said while the Commonwealth and the nation paused to honor its military members, some veterans still go hungry or live in the streets. “We have to be more intentional about making sure we pay back those people who gave their work and sacrificed their lives for our communities,” he said.
Vega honored the residents of the Holyoke Soldiers Home, where “every day is Veterans Day.”
Tallman, who served in the Army and the Air National Guard, said, “It’s a special day that we remember the people that served our country.”
He added that many Americans take their freedoms for granted. “It’s something the men and women of our country actually stood up for and sacrificed their lives, their time and dedication to do what was right.”
The ceremony also recognized Citizen of Year Scott Meyer, Public Safety Official of the Year Deputy Chief George Kiakis and Veteran of the Year Luis Delgado, a former Army Green Beret.
Eva Teraso performed a moving rendition of the national anthem. Chaplain Chad Correa gave the invocation and benediction. The Mountain View Baptist Church Choir honored veterans with a selection of patriotic songs.
In attendance were City Councilors Linda Vacon, David Bartley and Terence Murphy and School Committee Members William ‘Ron’ Collamore, Dennis Birks and Rosalee Tensely Williams.
War Memorial Commissioner Chris Sims was the master of ceremony. American Legion Post #351 hosted a luncheon for veterans and guests.