Marion, Mattapoisett celebrate 100 years of Veterans Day

Nov 11, 2019

In Marion and Mattapoisett citizens gathered on Veterans Day to honor and respect those in the tri-town who served on the hundredth anniversary of the founding of the holiday. 

Veterans in Mattapoisett were honored with a series of speeches and songs at Old Hammondtown School on Veterans Day. 

Navy Commander Rachel Perron gave the opening remarks, and asked those in attendance to ask a veteran about why they chose to serve, and talk about their experience in the military.

“These selfless Americans have stories to tell,” Perron said of the veterans in attendance.

When later asked about her own motives and experiences, Perron said that she joined the military as a way to pay for college, but that it turned out to have a much greater impact on her life.

“I think the biggest takeaway is how it expands your perspective of the world around you,” she said of her 23 years of service that includes time in the Army National Guard, and Navy Reserve, as well a tour in Afghanistan in 2014.

The packed crowd at Old Hammondtown School was treated to patriotic performances from The Showstoppers singing group, and the Old Hammondtown School Chorus and Concert Band.

Veteran George Randall and Veterans Agent Barry Denham addressed the crowd in between musical numbers. Randall recited the historic Gettysburg Address, and Denham recognized the importance of veterans and the holiday, but added that “we need to end wars” so that one day the holiday won’t be needed.

Principal speaker Captain Steven Gardiner retired from the Navy in 2018, after nearly 31 years  of service 

He said that one thing all veterans have in common is that “we all raised our hands, put on a uniform, swore an oath, and stepped out.”

Marion also celebrated veterans at its elementary school, Sippican School on Veterans Day. 

Retired Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Napoli served as the Master of Ceremonies for the service. He reminded participants of the historical significance of the holiday, and said that he makes no distinction between veterans who served in combat and those who served in non-combat capacities. 

He called serving in combat, “the most horrific thing that a human being has to go through,” and something that people “shouldn’t have to go through.” 

In brief remarks, Selectman Randy Parker recognized service members who left their families or are currently fighting. He said that “the best way to honor our veterans as we head into tomorrow is living in the freedom they protected.” 

The speaker for the main address was Jesse McFadden, a Marion native and 22-year Navy pilot.

In addressing the packed auditorium at his former elementary school, McFadden joked that after addressing so many crowds that had to be there it was “nice to see a crowd that volunteered for it.” He also said he felt his career had come full circle by getting to address fellow Marion residents where he had once gone to school. 

McFadden explained that he joined the navy during the Gulf War, which has relatively few casualties compared to the deaths after 9/11. He recognized younger veterans for having joined a fight that killed 15,000 service members and Department of Defense civilians “with eyes wide open.”

In particular he pointed to William Kyle Carpenter, a 20-year-old who jumped on a grenade to save a fellow marine, as an example, though he also recognized everyone who pitched in after the attacks, from first responders to blood donors. 

McFadden said that most service members serve to support and defend the Constitution, and also asked audience members to remember men and women currently in danger while serving. 

Orlando Harris offered prayers at the service, and Tom Shire presented a poem that he wrote called “Appreciation.”  

The Sippican School band closed out the ceremony by playing their third piece, “Grand Old Flag.” Napoli spoke fondly of the Sippican School band, saying that he “can’t wait for the holidays to come so we can hear them.”