A number of veterans serve in government roles on the Vineyard. The Times reached out to some of them to ask what the national holiday for veterans means to them. Here’s what they said.
Tisbury Fire Chief Greg Leland, Army: “As a veteran, Veterans Day is a day I like to remember all of my fellow soldiers still serving our great country, both here and away. It is a day that I remember the selflessness of our service members, and just how much they give to all of us on a daily basis. These men and women spend countless days and nights away from their loved ones, missing precious moments like first steps and holidays. They do all this without complaint, as service to our country is almost a calling to them. It’s on Veterans Day that we remember all those selfless heroes, past and present.”
Edgartown Police Chief Bruce McNamee, Navy, Navy Reserve, Army Reserve: “You feel that connectedness with other men and women who served their country.” Sometimes during the year, Chief McNamee said, he may forget about the opportunity he had to serve his country, but Veterans Day gives him a time to reflect on how appreciative he is to have been able to serve.
Chilmark Fire Chief Jeremy Bradshaw, Navy: “It is nice when people thank you for your service.” Chief Bradshaw described Veterans Day as a very special day “for all the people who have sacrificed, for the families who have sacrificed.” He also called it an important day for reflection.
Edgartown town administrator James Hagerty, Marines, Marines Reserve (active): “Veterans Day is about honoring service. Regardless of personal opinions on America’s entrance into conflict, the fact that we have this capability preserves our way of life and protects our freedom. Personal self-sacrifice combined with our values of democracy is the reason America will always be the land of opportunity.”
Tisbury Det. Charles Duquette, Army: “Honestly, it’s something that I think about on a daily basis, because there’s a lot of men and women out there, people that I served with and that other people have served with, that are still serving, [who] wake up every morning and put the uniform on. And a lot of people don’t understand the sacrifices that go on [in those] families. For them to continuously do that is honorable in and of itself … It’s something that we all appreciate.” Det. Duquette said there are a lot of veterans on the Vineyard, and he appreciates the service veterans from all branches of the military have given. He gave special thanks to the U.S. Coast Guard. “The Coast Guard doesn’t get a lot of recognition for what they do, not only stateside but across the world,” he said.
Station Menemsha Auxiliarist Watchstander Joe Berini, Coast Guard: “I think it’s our way of recognizing the sacrifices that people that have been in the service, and are in the service, make every day of their lives.” Berini said Veterans Day reminds him of people he’s known in the service. He said he typically spends the day setting American flags in the West Tisbury cemetery.
Edgartown ZBA chair Martin Tomassian, Army: Tomassian said there are a lot of Vietnam veterans on the Vineyard who are reticent to talk about their experience partially because, like himself, when they returned from the war they were spit on, “literally.” “So what does it mean to me?” Tomassian said. “I think there are a whole lot of people who ought to be a lot more thankful.”
Evoking JFK, Tomassian said there need to be fewer people asking the government what it will do for them and more people asking the government what they can do for it. “I think there’s too many people running around today flapping their gums that have no idea what it means to represent their country,” Tomassian said.
Oak Bluffs town administrator Deborah Potter, Marines: “As a former Marine celebrating both the Marine Corps Birthday (Nov. 10, and it is our 246th) and Veterans Day, I find this time as a period that offers an opportunity for celebration of our veterans as well as a time for introspective reflection. It’s a time to remember the opportunities provided, friendships created, and personal development that my time in the military provided. It’s a time to reflect on the past, consider future pathways, and develop strategies to overcome any challenges that may exist to accomplish those goals. It’s a time to applaud the Few, the Proud, the Marines and our fellow military service members and their families by honoring and appreciating what they have done in the past and for what they continue to do every day. Semper Fi, and Happy Veterans Day to all.”