By Melanie Petrucci, Senior Community Reporter
Shrewsbury – The room was full Sept. 20 at the Italian American Victory Club when local historian and veteran’s agent Michael Perna was the guest of honor at a dinner to recognize him as this year’s Spirit of Shrewsbury Grand Marshal.
In addition to Perna and his family, notables in attendance included State Representative Hannah Kane (R-Shrewsbury) and members of the Board of Selectmen.
Perna, a life-long resident of Shrewsbury and a 1968 graduate of Shrewsbury High School, is a decorated U.S. Air Force veteran, having retired in 2004 after a 36-year career. He currently serves as Shrewsbury’s veteran’s agent.
He is noted for being an avid historian, preferring to be in the midst of research more than most anything with the exception of spending time with his wife Sandy, children and grandchildren.
Humble is a word that is often used to describe Perna. He shared that a lot of what he does is his hobby but it’s very gratifying that people enjoy what he does, especially regarding his work on behalf of veterans.
He has authored five books on the history of Shrewsbury and his newest book, “Shrewsbury through Time – Volume II,” was written with the help of his grandchildren.
The program portion of the dinner was emceed by Shrewsbury native and Fire Captain, Sean Lawlor, who has personally known Perna most of his life.
Spirit of Shrewsbury President Frances Carvalho presented $5,000 checks to each of last year’s beneficiaries, St. Anne’s Human Services, Shrewsbury Youth and Family Services and the Worcester County Food Bank.
This year’s beneficiary is Special Olympics of Massachusetts. As such, Shrewsbury’s 2019 Special Olympic World Games Basketball Silver Medal Winning Men’s Basketball Team was recognized.
State Representative Hannah Kane presented citations on behalf of the State House of Representatives, State Senate and Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito.
Shrewsbury Selectman Chair Maurice Depalo concluded the proceedings with a proclamation on behalf of the selectmen.
Depalo noted that tonight was about Perna, a man who likes to help people, sees the value of preserving history, and works tirelessly on behalf of veterans.