The Sun came out just long enough to brighten up the City of Revere’s solemn Memorial Day Exercises, with another large crowd on hand this year to hear the remembrances of World War II veteran Thomas Hill.
Veterans Agent Nick Bua was the emcee of the event and he started off the ceremonies on Monday morning thanking the crowd for coming to thank those who served and to remember those who never came home from war.
It was, again, a well-attended event – as has been the case for the last several years as veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan begin to show up in larger numbers for the events. Previously, such ceremonies were sparsely attended and a source of frustration for veterans and City officials.
That, however, is no longer the case.
This year’s theme of the exercises was commemorating the 70th Anniversary of D-Day – when American troops stormed Omaha and Utah Beaches in direct conflict with the German Army.
To mark that occasion, the City had Tom Hill speak about his experiences and the importance of Memorial Day. Hill is from one of Revere’s most noted World War II families, as the family suffered multiple losses. Hill’s brother, James Hill, was killed in World War II and is the namesake of the former Hill Park and soon-to-be Hill School.
Tom Hill was a high-speed radio operator in the South Pacific. The Immaculate Conception graduate returned to Revere after his service and married his wife, Florence. They had three children and started the family business in 1947, Hill Insurance – a business that still thrives on Broadway today.
Hill, now in his 90s, recalled the old days in Revere when he used to see men from World War I parade through the City in uniforms during the afternoon.
“When I was a young boy, the Memorial Day services were in the morning and the afternoon was for the parade that honored the [World War I] veterans,” he said. “That infused all of us with fervent patriotism as we drank in the aura of the marchers in front of us.”
He then pointed out the Revere deaths from recent wars, including 31 from World War I, 145 from World War II (six families with double losses), 12 from Korea and Vietnam and 3 from the Gulf War.
“That’s 211 in five wars,” he said. “That’s 210 men and one woman, Shirley B. Andrews from the Korean War.
That who we truly honor today.”
Mayor Dan Rizzo remarked for some time about personal stories concerning recent veterans, but called on public and private agencies to honor fallen veterans by taking care of their families that are left behind.
“Their hearts will feel the sharp sting of their losses, leaving only longing memories of their mom or dad,” he said. “Their lives will be changed forever and their lives will be much more difficult. One way we can honor these soldiers is to take care of their families.”
He highlighted veteran based non-profits such as Mass Fallen Heroes, American Legion Operation Combat Warriors, and the personal favorite of the Revere Senior Center, Operation Troop Support.
“In each generation, there are men and women what will always step forward…willing to fight and, if necessary, die to save the call of freedom,” he said.
House Speaker Bob DeLeo also spoke and said he was proud of all of the legislation that has been passed in the state to support returning veterans and the families of those that have not returned, including two versions of the Valor Act.
“I’m proud of everything Massachusetts does for its veterans,” he said. “Massachusetts ranks first in the nation for serving veterans, military personnel and their families.”
Newly minted State Rep. RoseLee Vincent noted the efforts of Eileen Merullo to bring the Revere Women’s World War II memorial to the lawn – a memorial that marks the non-combat service of women from Revere during the war. It was the first Memorial Day that the memorial has been in place.
Following that, there was the annual reading of the Revere War Dead, with a bell tolling solemnly after each name that was read.
Local historian Jeffrey Pearlman led off the affair by reading the names of those who died in early wars, including the Revolutionary War, and are buried at the historic Rumney Marsh Burial Ground in Revere.
Other readings came from Joe Cole, Morris Morris, Pat Caruso, Bob Gatchell, Ed Harrington, and Dennis Moschella.
The event concluded with the somber playing of ‘Taps’ by Steven Forgione, and a volley from the Revere Police Department.
Musical performances were by Kristin Ternullo-Karshis, the Whelan School Chorus, and Brittani Napoli.
The Prince Strauss/Benjamin Groman Jewish War Veterans Post #161 – under Cmdr. Joe Cole – hosted this year’s festivities.
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World War II Army Veteran Tom Hill, the keynote speaker at Monday’s exercises, spoke to the large crowd assembled on the American Legion Law for the annual Memorial Day ceremonies. Hill is from one of Revere’s most notable World War II families. Many in the family served in the war and the family suffered multiple losses. Hill’s brother, James Hill, died during World War II and is the namesake of the new Hill School (formerly Hill Park). Hill, now in his 90s, said we must never forget to honor all of those men and women who lost their lives defending our freedoms.
Veterans Agent Nick Bua welcomes everyone to the exercises on Monday morning.
The Revere Fire Department and Revere Police Department Color Guards presented the colors.
Kristin Ternullo-Karshis sang a rousing rendition of the National Anthem as the Whelan School Chorus stood behind with hand over heart.
The Whelan School Chorus members recite the Pledge of Allegiance.
Mayor Dan Rizzo said we must take care of the families of fallen soldiers.
House Speaker Bob DeLeo highlighted both versions of the Valor Act.
World War II Veteran Tom Hill (left) and Mayor Dan Rizzo (right) place the City of Revere’s wreath on the War Monument at the American Legion Lawn.
Jeffrey Pearlman reads the list of the war dead from the Colonial Wars and the Revolutionary War.
JWV Commander Joseph Cole reads the list of World War I dead.
Morris Morris, commander of the Allied Veterans Council, read the list of Revere’s World War II dead.
Revere Auxiliary Police Officer plays ‘Taps’ following a volley by the Revere Police.
Revere High School student Brittani Napoli sang ‘God Bless America’ to conclude the Memorial Day exercises.
Beachmont VFW Post members (left to right) Lennie Piazza, Nick Giacobbe, Pat Caruso, Hal Reid and Bob Gatchell, P.C.
New State Rep. RoseLee Vincent (center) gathers with friends Annette Bornstein and Ed O’Hara after the ceremonies.
World War II veteran Harry Terenzi (in wheelchair), age 98, made it out to Monday’s Memorial Day exercises with his family. Terenzi served in the 32nd Infantry Division at New Guinea. He fought in six battles, he said. Pictured here are (front row) Vinnie Cammaratta, Nicole Crane, and Terenzi. (Back Row) Salvi Ternullo, Torey DiFrancesco, Mayor Dan Rizzo and Police Chief Joe Cafarelli.