CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – Whether you’re grilling, or one of the millions of people boarding a plane, veterans ask you remember the true meaning of this holiday weekend. “We appreciate people taking a moment to remember the people that served,” said Delfo Barabani, Junior, the president of Western Massachusetts Chapter 111 Vietnam Veterans of America. He said, “Even if you don’t agree with the policies and you think that’s wrong with whatever’s being done, that the people that are serving, they put their hand up and said they’d do, and they are doing, and without that, the country wouldn’t be able to function.”
Memorial Day began after the Civil War as Decoration Day: A time to decorate soldiers’ graves with flowers. Now, there are many ways to publicly and privately honor those killed in the line of duty. “Attend the parades, go to the veterans services that are available to the public and really taking advantage of sitting down and seeing some of the people who have served,” said Chicopee City Councilor Stanley Walczak.
Chicopee residents have a long history of serving our nation. Each year, around Memorial Day, the City honors our veterans with a special award, known as the Charles H. Tracy Award.
Sergeant Charles Tracy enlisted in the Army while living in Chicopee. He was awarded the Medal of Honor for his service in the Civil War. The award has been given out to a Chicopee veteran each year since 2009. This year, Chicopee’s George Moreau was posthumously awarded this honor for his service to the City and to our nation. He was once the president of the Chicopee City Council and a longstanding Council Member and Ward Councilor. Moreau served in the U.S. Army during the Korean and Vietnam Wars. He’s also remembered for campaigning to name the former Chicopee High School the “First Sergeant Kevin A. Dupont Memorial Middle School” in honor of the Chicopee native who died from injuries sustained while serving overseas.
“This is a noteworthy event. We should do this every year. We owe it to them,” said James McInerney, a prisoner of war and veteran in the Korean War as well as a veteran in the Vietnam War.
Delfo Barabani, Junior received the award in 2015.
You can spend the day with family while honoring our fallen soldiers by attending one of the many parades across the region.