OAKVILLE — On the 11th day of the 11th month at the 11th hour, the Watertown and Oakville communities gathered to show their love and appreciation for those who serve and those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. On Wednesday, November 11, under leaden skies but record warmth, sizable crowds were in attendance at both the Oakville Green and the Watertown Green Gazebo for services sponsored by the Oakville American Legion Post 195, Oakville VFW Post 7330 and the Watertown VFW Post 5157.

Originally known as Armistice Day, with its first commemoration on November 11, 1919, the day was renamed Veterans Day by an act of Congress on June 4, 1954 to honor those who served in all wars. 

Young and old, socially-distanced, the men and women who served were easily identifiable by their hats, jackets and uniforms they proudly wore, collecting well-deserved thank-you’s from everyone in attendance as well as the honking horns of many vehicles driving by.

A litany of speakers, led by newly re-elected state Sen. Eric Berthel, R-32, and state Rep. Joseph Polletta, R-68, spoke eloquently about how much servicemen and women have meant, and continue to mean to the nation.

“I can only imagine what it must have been like to enlist in the military and know that one day you may be asked to serve and never return,” said Rep. Polletta. “So let’s be sure to take a moment to remember those that made the ultimate sacrifice and never returned.”

Added Sen. Berthel, “My father served our nation proudly, as does everyone who puts on the uniform; today we pause as a grateful nation to say ‘thank you’ to each and every one of you.”

The ceremony in Oakville, hosted by VFW Post 7330 Commander Mike Yakavonis, was also addressed by VFW Chaplain Joe Ostroski, American Legion Post 195 Commander Dan D’Angelis, retiring Watertown Police Chief John Gavallas and Town Manager Mark Raimo, himself a veteran, who said that despite the Covid-19 pandemic, it was heartening to see growing numbers each year at remembrances.

“We must never forget,” said Mr. Raimo. “We must always pay tribute and show respect for those who defend us.”

Red, white and blue wreaths were placed at the base of the memorial by representatives of the VFW, American Legion, Daughters of the American Revolution, Town Council and fire and police departments.

Led by Color Guard Captain Paul Wozniak, a firing squad salute echoed through the area, followed by the always-emotional notes of Taps, and a prayer to end the ceremony.

“Today is your day,” said Rep. Polletta. “Enjoy, relax and pray for our great nation.”

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