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Led by the color guards, veterans, elected officials, Westford Police and Fire Department Honor Guards (many also veterans), and the combined Westford Girl and Boy Scout troop members marched from the J.V. Fletcher Library to the town Common to assemble there.
The 11 a.m. service on Nov. 11, presided over by Westford Veterans Services Officer Ryan Cobleigh, began with the ringing of the bells at the First Parish Church and the Westford Museum, both in the town center, for two minutes. The bell ringing was organized by Westford’s chapter of the Daughters of the Revolution.
An entourage of Westford Girl Scouts led in The Pledge of Allegiance.
Cobleigh introduced those attending to the history of Armistice Day which was later renamed Veterans Day. The first Armistice Day was held in 1919 on the 11th day of the 11th month at the 11th hour. In 1954, Veterans Day was celebrated for the first time to honor all veterans of all wars.
State Rep. James Arciero spoke on Westford’s contribution to the efforts of World War I. He also recognized three Westford veterans who have contributed significantly to veterans. They include retired Navy Chief Jason Main, a 1991 graduate of Westford Academy, who, after the death of a personal friend and fellow shipmate, formed an charitable organization, Friends Never Forget, to sponsor the children of fallen comrades to a camp of their choice.
Arciero recognized U.S. Navy retired Senior Chief Petty Officer Terry Stader, recently retired as Westford Veterans Services Officer, for his contributions to the wellbeing of local veterans and their families. Stader has also worked with Arciero’s office on veterans housing and educational benefits that were subsequently enacted by state legislation and signed in to law by Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker. Stader continues to work with local veterans issues in his retirement.
Army veteran, Scott Hyder, a Westford police officer, was also recognized for his charitable organization, Hidden Battles, formed after the personal tragedy of losing a brother to suicide. He recognized through his own personal experiences that first responders, police fire and EMS personnel as well as veterans need assistance fighting their own job related battles against depression, PTSD and associated mental health issues.
Selectman Elizabeth Almeida followed with a recognition of several World War I Westford veterans. As she read off the names, the Veterans Day participants in the audience echoed back the names. Each of the veterans had a story about their service as well as how they were known within the town. Local historian, Robert Oliphant, worked with Almeida to provide history lessons about the soldiers of the “war to end all wars”.
The service ended with the solemn sounds of taps played by members of the Westford Academy band.
A 2018 100th anniversary tribute to Armistice Day was created and posted on the Town of Westford’s website at https://westfordma.gov/1149/