By Cindy Zomar, Contributing Writer
Hudson – In a rare gathering of the Marlborough Regional Chamber of Commerce, the MetroWest Chamber of Commerce and the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce, the American Heritage Museum in Hudson opened its doors for a special evening to celebrate America’s veterans and current members of the armed services. The honored guests were from every branch of the armed forces, representing every conflict that Americans have been in from WWII to the present, and humbly accepted the gratitude of the members of the three local organizations.
The evening included guided tours through a museum – a chronologically arranged series of stirring videos, dioramas and exhibits. From the Revolutionary War to 9/11 and the ensuing war on terror in Iraq and Afghanistan, the history of the bravery and valor of the U.S. Armed Forces were highlighted.
“The museum is dedicated to the 1.3 million Americans who’ve given their lives for their country,” said Robert Collings, founder of the Collings Foundation which established the American Heritage Museum. “We want people to participate and understand the history as they pay homage to our veterans.”
Former Lt. Governor Tim Murray, the current president of the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce, congratulated Collings.
“What you’ve done here is on par with the National World War II Museum in New Orleans,” he said. “I sincerely hope this is the beginning of a series of annual events together.”
Robert Schlacter, president of the Marlborough Regional Chamber of Commerce, recognized Felix Caponi from Hudson, a WWII Navy veteran from the Pacific Theater, who turned 96 on Nov. 14. Caponi stood at his seat and smiled and saluted as he received a standing ovation from the crowd.
“Any day is a good day to thank a veteran, but it’s tough to find the right words to convey how much we appreciate their sacrifice,” Schlacter said.
“Less than one half of one percent of our population are veterans, yet they put their own dreams on hold so that the rest of us can pursue our dreams,” added Jim Giammarinaro, president of the MetroWest Chamber of Commerce. “There is no way to ever thank them enough.”
Portions of the ticket proceeds were donated to Sweats for Vets and Veterans Inc. Boston Scientific and Wakefly were the major sponsors of the evening. The Zak Casey American Vets from Marlborough provided the Color Guard for the event.