Wilmington Turns Out For Veterans Day Ceremony; To Become Purple Heart Community Tonight

WILMINGTON, MA — A large crowd of residents, estimated at 300, converged on the Town Common last Friday morning for Wilmington’s annual Veterans Day Ceremony.

Wilmington Veterans Agent Lou Cimaglia was pleased with the turnout.

“What a crowd… It amazes me how patriotic Wilmington is,” Cimaglia told attendees.  “Your presence here today shows your unwavering support for our veterans…. It’s very touching to see such a large turnout year after year.”

Cimaglia announced that Wilmington will soon be a “Purple Heart Community,” formalizing the town’s commitment to honoring and helping its Purple Heart recipients and their families.  (The Purple Heart is awarded to members of the US armed forces who are wounded or killed in action.)   Cimaglia invited residents to attend the Selectmen’s Meeting on Monday, November 14 at 7pm in the Town Hall Auditorium where the Board will consider signing the official proclamation.

The designation was brought to Cimaglia’s attention by Meredith Cipriani, the daughter of recently retired Recreation Director Debbie Cipriani. Cipriani then donated funding for four new parking signs in town — 3 spots reserved for Purple Heart recipients and 1 spot for Veterans.  The “Purple Heart” parking spots are at the Town Hall, Silver Lake, and Veterans Agent’s Office.  The veterans parking spot will be at the Yentile Farm Recreational Facility.

In addition to the parking spots, Wilmington will find other ways to honor its Purple Heart recipients, according to Cimaglia.  He pointed to the new “Purple Heart” flag on the Town Common’s flag pole and plans for some sort of community-wide show of support annually on August 7, “Purple Heart Day.”

Purple Heart recipient James Banda, a fixture in the Wilmington community for decades, serving as a Selectman and Library Trustee, was chosen to place the wreath on the Veterans Memorial.

Wilmington Town Manager Jeff Hull praised Veterans Agent Lou Cimaglia and his assistant Joe Downs for “going the extra mile” for Wilmington veterans.

Hull gave brief remarks centered around “Semper Fi,” emphasizing that civilians must be as faithful to veterans as those heroes have been faithful to their country.  Hull said Americans must be faithful to its military members in a number of ways, by providing: training; employment opportunities; quality medical care; treatment & support for struggling veterans and their families; and improved access to benefits.

“We must always remain faithful and committed to our vets,” said Hull.

Wilmington Selectwoman Judy O’Connell, Chair of the Board of Selectmen, stressed a simple message of gratitude to Wilmington veterans.

“Thank you,” said O’Connell.  “This debt of gratitude can never be repaid.  Know that you have a loving community here in Wilmington that continues to honor and support you.”

State Senator Bruce Tarr called honoring veterans one of the most important duties of an American citizen.

“One of our most important responsibilities is to say THANK YOU and to never fail to remember the promise we made to veterans their families — we love, cherish and honor veterans,” said Tarr.

“Some question the unity of our country, but we must always be united and share a sense of community,” continued Tarr.  “What better cause to bring us together than for  caring for our veterans.  We must recommit ourselves to fact that no line divides us from stepping up and doing the right thing for our vets.”

Tarr went on to discuss recent legislation the Massachusetts State House has passed over the past several years, including VALOR Act 1, Valor Act 2, and – most recently – the HOME Act.  Tarr also praised Wilmington Veterans Agent Lou Cimaglia for his help in providing crucial information and realities when formulating these bills.

Paul Brawley, a Service Officer with the Massachusetts Department of Veterans’ Services and a retired 23-year Navy officer, served as the ceremony’s guest speaker.

After discussing the history of Veterans Day and reading a letter from George Washington, Brawley noted how Massachusetts takes care of its veterans.

“Massachusetts leads the nation in providing services and benefits to veterans,” said Brawley, pointing to per capita spending and the fact that the Bay State is the only state that, by law, requires that each of its cities and towns have a local veterans agent.

Cimaglia took time to thank those who made the ceremony a success.

Cimaglia thanked all the participants — the speakers, the Wilmington High School Marching Band (“the best band in the land”); the Honor Guards; the Wilmington scouting community; and Deacon Clifford King.  He also thanked various Town Departments, including the Police Department, Fire Department, and Department of Public Works.

Cimaglia recognized all the Wilmington Board of Selectmen who were present, as well as Interim Superintendent Joanne Benton and retired Town Manager Michael Caira.  He also recognized former Sgt. of Arms Jimmy Williams.

A shot of the crowd as the ceremony is about to begin.

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