Veterans saluted at Big E’s opening day

Fair connecting veterans with services and benefits they have earned

WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – It has been a salute to veterans on the opening day of the 101st edition of the Eastern States Exposition in West Springfield.

All veterans and active-duty personnel were guests of the Big E, but that was just the beginning. The Avenue of States near the Massachusetts Building was lined with tents providing services and information, ranging from VA benefits to making arrangements to one day become a resident at the Holyoke Soldiers Home.

“They have such care, people have compassion. They really do care,” Sharon Gonzalez of Chicopee said.

Soldiers Home personnel fielded many inquiries about their services for veterans.

“Mostly, they’re looking about the dental. We have a full-service dental here for outpatients. We have podiatry, I’m with the Holyoke Health Center,” Janet McDonald of the Holyoke Soldiers Home said.

Ninety-six year-old World War II veteran Ben Marino may have been the oldest veteran at the Big E Friday. He is impressed with the respect and affection veterans receive today.

“Wonderful, wonderful. It couldn’t be any better, and they finally realized we did something that was good,” Marino said.

It was a touching tribute to veterans at the Big E, as they proudly displayed their service to our country.