Guest columnist Ruth Leahey: Can’t thank veterans enough

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By RUTH LEAHEY

Published: 11-20-2023 6:28 PM

On Nov. 9, the Whately Grange presented a Quilt of Valor and many Patriots Awards to local veterans from Hatfield, Williamsburg, Buckland and other area towns.

The handmade Quilt of Valor quilt was presented to retired U.S. Air Force Col. Marcus J. Boyle of Hatfield, who served his country from 1967 to 1995 in various capacities: aircraft maintenance, an intelligence unit, missile wing, a base command element, operations directorate, Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Office of the Secretary of Defense, and Defense Mapping Agency as chief of staff, director, DMA Areo Space Center, and Deputy for International Operations.

He served in the Vietnam, Panama, Lebanon, Grenada and Persian Gulf conflicts as well as in the war of terrorism. He has been a Hatfield Select Board member and member of other local governmental committees and boards.

The National Grange has a partnership with Quilt of Valor Foundation and encourages local Granges to conduct their own Quilts of Valor presentations. The Quilt of Valor quilts are handmade quilts that serve as reminders of appreciation and gratitude to service members. As many service people know, those who served during the Vietnam War didn’t get the appropriate recognition when they returned.

A late World War II POW, Al Lind, pieced together 450 quilts. Today the Quilt of Valor organization has given out more than 30,000 quilts.

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In addition to this award, Patriots Awards were given to veterans from Hatfield and other nearby towns: Thomas Wickles, Paul Dostal, Raymond Giroux, Christopher Hoffman, William Symanski, Marcus Boyle, John S. Hannum, John S. Hannum, III, Richard Mills, Daniel Snook, and Russell Dodge.

The different levels of Grange work very hard to acknowledge veterans and thank the men and women who “signed an oath to support and defend the Constitution and our nation against all enemies and are willing to protect our freedoms. The Patriots Award is a “salute to veterans for their patriotism, courage, and service to country above self.”

As a former military wife (Vietnam War), a mother-in-law to a Coast Guardsman (9/11) and presently a grandmother-in-law to an Army soldier (Korea), I am profoundly upset to see the men listed above did not get recognition from the local news media on Nov. 9.

I can only thank those whom the Whately Grange honored — thank you for your service. I also would like to thank our local veterans who did “their thing” at many functions that day (starting at 9 a.m.) and still had time to honor these veterans at an evening program.

Our organization focuses on “home and community services” and doing this presentation (honoring servicemen of the area) is only a small portion of things we do. Thank you also goes to the Whately Select Board Chairman Fred Baron, who applauded the veterans and the Grange for honoring them. Fire Chief JP Kennedy also spoke in behalf of the veterans and people who serve the public.

I leave with you a line from “It Is the Veteran”: “It is the veteran, not the reporter who has given us freedom of the press.”

Ruth Leahey is president of the Whately Grange.