By Mr. David Wedemeyer (Natick)November 20, 2019
NATICK, Mass.-- Soldiers live by the Army values of loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal courage. They do not leave behind their values and skills when they transition to civilian life.
Right now, all around the country, Veterans serve as doctors, scientists, engineers, social workers, community leaders, first responders, and elected officials. They continue to serve the communities in which they live and work by making positive contributions and inspiring future generations.
One such community is the town of Natick--home of the Natick Soldier Systems Center (NSSC). On Monday, Nov. 11, Soldiers from NSSC joined local first responders, Scouts, and residents in celebrating the lives of service of American Veterans. The event kicked-off with a parade through the town center, led by the Combat Capabilities Development Command Soldier Center's (CCDC SC) Headquarters Research and Development Detachment (HRDD) color guard.
"Regardless of the military branch our Veterans have served--Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, or Coast Guard--this day belongs to them," said Brig. Gen. Vincent F. Malone, senior commander of NSSC. "Generations of patriots have dedicated themselves to the defense of our country which makes us stronger and more resilient as a nation."
Evidence of such patriotism is found across the very brick and mortar of Natick. "Natick has always respected our Veterans," said Warren Griffin, president of the Natick Veterans Council. "For years this town has respected its Veterans."
That sentiment is found throughout the town of Natick as numerous squares are dedicated in honor of residents who have served and the street on which NSSC is located was renamed in memory of Maj. Gen. Harold Greene. Local institutions also host memorials to Natick's Veterans including the Morse Institute Library's "Oral History Project" which archives interviews of local Veterans and Natick High School's "Wall of Achievement" lists alumni who have been successful in all walks of life--many of whom have served across the Armed Forces.
One familiar theme of Natick's Veterans is that many would go on to be educators--teachers and principals--and supporters of educational institutions. Malone recognized several of them.
Dr. Joseph Keefe entered the Army during the height of the Korean War. Sent to Japan, he served as secretary to a colonel overseeing a replacement camp and depot in Tokyo. He helped process security and clearances, as well as POW documents after the armistice was signed.
Keefe would go on to become President of the Board of Trustees of the Morse Institute Library, Natick Public Schools Superintendent, Walnut Hill School Trustee and Executive Director, and Principal of the Kennedy School.
Natick Public Schools called him a "man of education and shaper of middle school education in our district."
Tassos Filledes served as a commanding officer for the Massachusetts National Guard before becoming the principal of Medfield High School, a biology teacher and coach at Natick High, assistant director of the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association, and assistant executive secretary of the Massachusetts Secondary School Administrators Association.
Filledes community activities have included the Natick School Committee, Natick Performing Arts Committee, Friends of Natick Schools, and Director of DIAL HELP, an alcohol and drug abuse hotline for students.
In his remarks, Natick's Veterans Services Officer Paul Carew, introduced United States Marine John Crisafulli by using the term "Crisafulli Week," referencing the town's renaming of an intersection earlier in the week in honor of the Veteran.
Nearly 70 years ago, Crisafulli saved the lives of fellow Marines during the Korean War and for this valor he was awarded the Bronze Star. He would go on to teach in Natick elementary schools for 24 years before serving as principal for another 11 and advise students to "be all that you can be, develop all the abilities you are blessed with, and be a positive role model to all those around you."
"Thank you for your unwavering commitment to our country and our youth," said Malone of the three servicemembers-turn-educators. "Your leadership as educators will leave a lasting impression on generations to come."
NSSC values education. Of the approximately 1,500-person workforce, nearly 1,200 have advanced degrees that range from Aerospace to Zoology. Over 370 Veterans from every branch continue to serve as Army civilians at the research and development installation, many with disciplines in science, technology, engineering, arts, and math, or STEAM. Their work touches every Soldier, from the food they eat to the clothes they wear.
"There is evidence all around us in how we respect and honor our Veterans," said Michael Hickey, chair of the Natick Board of Selectmen. "Not only in the physical reminders such as the squares we've dedicated…but in the actions and the deeds and the work that people do to support Soldiers, Veterans, and their families at home."
Each year, Nov. 11 is set aside to celebrate and pay tribute to America's Veterans for their devotion, patriotism, selfless service, and sacrifice on our behalf, however, as Mass. Rep. David Linsky stated in his remarks during the event.
Linksy, who represents the Fifth Middlesex District--which includes Natick--said, "Growing up in Natick, this was always an important day in our family. I love to see Natick come together on a day like this and I think about the sacrifices that not only Veterans make, but those their families make. Let's make every day Veterans Day, not just Nov. 11, but let's think about the sacrifices that veterans and their families make every day of the year."