AGAWAM, Mass. (WWLP) – Veteran’s Day isn’t until Tuesday, but on Sunday, an Agawam church held its own Veterans Day observance.
Marantha Baptist Church in Agawam honored local veterans on the Sunday before Veteran’s Day with a special service.
For the last six years, the church has held a veterans service to honor those who fought for our country. A guest speaker related Sunday’s service to these men and women.
Evangelist guest speaker Gary Gillmore said, “The purpose of the veterans and our military is to protect our country, and the purpose of the church is to protect people.”
Together, the veterans sang America the Beautiful and Amazing Grace.
13 veterans were honored as part of Sunday’s service. Some of them were in the Air Force, while others went to Vietnam and the Persian Gulf. They had jobs ranging from doctors, to interpreters to engineers.
They were given bibles, blessings, and pins, followed by a lunch prepared and served by parishioners.
Many veterans feel thankful to finally have the recognition they were denied when they came home from war.
Neil Downey, who served as a hospital corpsman in Vietnam, told 22News, “When we came home from Vietnam, there was no one to greet us. There were certainly no services in our honor, no parades. You know, we were spit on most of the time.”
Some say they’re lucky to now have recognition compared to those who fought before them.
Harold Wilson who served as Marine recon in Vietnam, said, “My ancestors served in the Revolutionary War, I had one that served in the Civil War. They were not honored. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be able to be in this country.”
Pastor David Short read a few words from past presidents who spoke about veterans. He reminded the church that President Ronald Reagan once said “Freedom is not free”.