By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
Region – From the time that Adam Costello became director of the Central Massachusetts Veterans’ Services District in the fall of 2014, he has heard a common concern. After serving their country in the Vietnam War, many veterans returned home and felt that they were scorned instead of welcomed.
“It’s a regret that has been shared among almost every Vietnam veteran who has come into the office,” he said. “A lot of them didn’t have a choice; they were drafted into this war that they didn’t necessarily even want to go into. Then they came home to a lot of hatred and animosity. It’s sad that the soldiers became the scapegoat.”
Costello reached out to representatives of veterans and civic organizations within the district he serves, which consists of Grafton, Northborough, Shrewsbury and Westborough. Representatives from those towns and beyond attended the first meeting March 11 at the Vincent F. Picard American Legion Post 234 in Northborough. They began planning a Vietnam veterans welcome home ceremony, scheduled for Saturday, April 30, beginning at noon at Floral Street Elementary School in Shrewsbury.
“We had at least one representative from each of the towns,” Costello said of the meeting’s turnout. “It was more than I expected.”
The occasion will begin with an hour of socializing. Family-friendly activities will include face painting and crafts. Other considerations discussed were children’s entertainment, a musical act such as an acoustic guitarist and/or a high school chorus. The recreation departments of Northborough and Shrewsbury offered assistance. State Rep. Hannah Kane, R-Shrewsbury, volunteered to provide food.
A ceremony with the presentation of colors is being planned to start about 1:15 p.m.
“We’d like to get people from all eras and towns into this color guard,” Costello noted. “We definitely want to have representation from every generation at the ceremony.”
Discussions included possibility including an MIA/POW Chair of Honor ceremony. Involved in that ceremony would be cadets of the Marine Corps JROTC from Assabet Valley Regional Technical High School in Marlborough, led by Chief Warrant Officer 3 Randolph P. Mann.
Costello urged everyone in attendance to help spread the word about the ceremony to all Vietnam veterans.
“This is not only for people who are members of veterans organizations,” he stressed. “It’s for everybody who served during that time.”