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North Adams, Pittsfield Honor Veterans' Sacrifices
By Tammy Daniels & Brittany Polito, iBerkshires Staff
03:31PM / Friday, November 10, 2023
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Ceremonies are held at the Veterans Memorial in North Adams on Friday.

Fire Chief Brent Lefebvre, an Army Reserve veteran, speaks at the North Adams ceremony.

Pittsfield's parade marches to the memorial on South Street.

Pittsfield Mayor-elect Peter Marchetti speaks at the ceremony.

Michael Bradley is honored as the Berkshire County Coalition Veteran of the Year for 2023 in Pittsfield.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The county's two cities held Veterans Day observances on Friday to remember and recognize those who had served in the armed forces. 
Normally held on Nov. 11 — marking the end of World War 1 on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918 — it was recognized on Friday since the holiday this year falls on a Saturday.
The guest speaker in North Adams was Fire Chief Brent Lefebvre, who had enlisted in the Army Reserve at age 17 and spent six years of active duty supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. 
See more photos from the North Adams event here.
Veterans Day should be a day about looking forward, he said, and recommitting to the ideals for which veterans served and pledging to uphold the legacy of those who went before to work for a more peaceful, just world. 
"As a veteran, I can tell you the journey from civilian life to becoming a service member is one marked by dedication, selflessness, and a sense of duty," said Lefebvre. "It's a journey where you learn the true meaning of camaraderie where bonds are forged that will last us a lifetime."
That journey instilled him a continuing desire to serve, which lead him to the fire service. 
"For some it's a journey that often leads to foreign lands," he said. "Far from the comfort of home, where the price of freedom is paid in blood, sweat and tears. 
"North Adams like countless other communities across the great nation has always had a special place in its heart for veterans. The support, respect and appreciation shown to us is both inspiring and heartwarming and reminds us that the sacrifices made were not in vain. That our service is valued and cherished."
The ceremony at the Veterans Memorial was preceded by a parade down Main Street from the American Legion with a community color guard. The Drury High School band played a number of patriotic songs and and Noah Wilhelm and Kaylee Lescarbeau played taps and echo. Boy Scout Dominic Pearson lead the Pledge of Allegiance and VFW Cmdr. Ed Briscoe and past District 1 American Legion Cmdr. Sylvia Lefebvre placed the wreath. 
Mayor Jennifer Macksey said the community was indebted to the men and women, past and present, who have served the nation. 
"You carried out missions that we will never understand," said the mayor. "Our political affiliation, race, religion, gender, and ethnicity did not matter as you fought on behalf of all the American citizens, our country and our country's interests. For this, and especially for risking your own life to maintain our freedoms, we are indebted to you. To all of those who are in active duty, we are thankful and grateful for your willingness to serve your dedication to the United States."
She particularly acknowledged those deployed abroad now "in an effort to defend American interest and deter a wider war in the Middle East."
"We thank you for your bravery. We thank you to the military families for all of your sacrifices. So veterans, as citizens, we appreciate each and every one of you,"  Macksey said.
"While we can never quite understand in the same manner, we consider you role models for your service. Each day we can attempt to represent you and make you proud as we spread peace in our own community through the practice of kindness."
In Pittsfield, more than 100 gathered at the Veterans Memorial Park on South Street following a parade from City Hall.
"The life-altering decision to join the military comes with much that never is heard or seen by the general public," Veterans Services and Council on Aging Director James Clark said.
"Much of this commitment is both physically and mentally life-altering. For many veterans, they carry their memories internally within their head and may on occasion share them with friends, family, or in general conversation but many do not."
Clark, a retired Army officer, gave many examples of what it means to be a veteran that ranged from eating food quickly to learning that fellow soldiers whom you cared for deeply had been killed in action.
He recognized that families of veterans share the pain and anguish and endure equal, if not more sacrifices and many times do not the get recognition and support they deserve.
"It means that you still to this day get major goosebumps on opening day at a football home opener when the military fly-by takes place and the national anthem is sung. It means you take it seriously when you fly your American flag outside of your house on the Fourth of July and Memorial Day and every day in between. It means you're always wiping away a tear or two after the playing of taps," he said.
"It means even though your body is riddled with multiple problems, aches, and pains, you would do it all over again in a heartbeat. Why? Because you deeply love this country of ours and you're damn proud of it and that's what it means to be a veteran."
Michael Bradley was honored as the Berkshire County Coalition Veteran of the Year for 2023. Bradley retired after 23 years of military service as a specialist first class, and after 20 working for General Electric and 23 serving as Berkshire County Trial Court officer.
"I deeply appreciate this from the bottom of my heart," he said. "And to all my brothers and sisters out there I want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart for your military service."
Bradley is a member of multiple local veterans organizations including Dalton American Legion Post 155 and as an American Legion Rider of Post 155.  He has been the top seller of Truckload Raffle tickets for many years, supports the Toys for Tots fundraiser, and sings the national anthem at veterans' ceremonies.
Bradley explained that he did not always think he was a veteran because he did not serve in combat but an older gentleman told him that he served his country no matter what his role was. A couple of years later, he was approached to join a veterans organization by two friends whom he still considers brothers to this day.
He emphasized the importance of supporting veterans' organizations so that they can continue to help others.
"To all of you servicemen and -women out there, thank you," Council President and Mayor-elect Peter Marchetti said.
"We will not forget. We hold you and our thoughts and prayers every day and for all those that have gone before us, we thank them for their service and the ultimate sacrifice."
Marchetti delivered remarks from Mayor Linda Tyer, who was unable to attend the event because she was at the Massachusetts Association of School Committees annual convention at which she was receiving an award. 
"Veterans Day is a day in which we celebrate and honor the men and women who are currently serving and have served in our armed forces. Today is dedicated to the cause of world peace and to demonstrate our respect, admiration, and gratitude for those who have worn the uniforms of our country," Tyer wrote.
"For almost 2 1/2 centuries, brave men and women have selflessly answered the calls to arms to preserve and defend American ideals and democracy. Each generation has done its part to deliver a strong and free America to the next generation and they have done so with great determination, personal toughness, and willingness to risk it for all others."
The master of ceremonies was American Legion Post 68 Cmdr. Lenwood "Woody" Vaspra, Pittsfield High School senior Dea Wood sang the national anthem, Tyrone Belanger was the officer of the day, the Dalton American Legion Post 155 did the volley, and veteran Joe DiFilipo performed taps.
The ceremony also included patriotic music from the Pittsfield High School band.
City Councilors, Sen. Paul Mark, state Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier, District Attorney Timothy Shugrue, and Sheriff Thomas Bowler were in attendance.
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