By K.B. Sherman, Contributing Writer
Grafton – Veterans Day 2016 in Grafton was a fine day of bright sunshine, moderate temperatures, and a lively wind. The ceremony at American Legion Post 92, along Worcester Street in Grafton, was led by David Callahan, post commander, with the participation of VFW Chapter 1497 of South Grafton and the Legion Women’s Auxiliary.
A good size crowd was in attendance as the parading of the colors preceded a prayer. Thanks for the service of all vets, living and dead, were made. Aged and damaged U.S. flags were ceremonially burned, as is the proper custom.
A special treat for attendees was the participation of the students from the Autism Behavioral Services (ABS) in North Grafton. The students had packaged cookies and created greeting cards thanking veterans for their service. According to their website, http://absaba.com, Autism Behavioral Services provides insurance funded one-to-one home, clinic, and community-based Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) programs throughout Massachusetts.
On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 an armistice between Germany and the Allied nations came into effect. On Nov. 11, 1919, Armistice Day was commemorated for the first time. In 1919, President Wilson proclaimed the day should be “filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory.” There were plans for parades, public meetings and a brief suspension of business activities at 11 a.m.
Following World War II and The Korean War, in 1954, veterans’ service organizations urged Congress to change the word “Armistice” to “Veterans.” Congress approved this change and on June 1, 1954, Nov. 11 became a day to honor all American veterans, where ever and whenever they had served.
Two of senior participants at the 2016 Grafton Veterans Day event were Ray and Viola Johnson. Ray, 93, served in the U.S. Navy during World War II, participating as a radar instructor at Naval Station Great Lakes. At the war’s beginning radar was a new technology not yet used by the Japanese of Germans. In fact, radar in Hawaii had detected the first wave of Japanese planes headed to bomb Pearl Harbor in 1941, but in a confused series of events, the warning was ignored.
All event participants enjoyed the 2016 ceremony and thanked the ABS kids and their teachers for the cookies and good wishes.