What a turnout this year at the Shirley Veterans Day ceremonies! I wish to thank everyone who attended the event at Whiteley Park. In particular, great appreciation goes out to: Lt. Col. Steven F. Egan, commanding officer of Fort Devens, who was the keyote speaker; Command Sgt. Maj. Donald Thelen, of the Fort Devens command; 100 year old WWII veteran Sgt. Thelma Katkin of Lunenburg, who was the special guest of honor; Elaine Decell of the Shirley American Legion Auxiliary; Norman Albert of the Shirley American Legion; and Leslie Seidel who saluted the Vietnam veterans.

In addition, the Shirley Board of Selectmen was represented and Sen. Jamie Eldridge was present along with the Shirley Boy Scout Troop under the leadership of David Dean.

There was also a spectacular showing by the Shirley Police Department in their full dress uniforms. As usual, the Shirley Department of Public Works and the Shirley Fire Department were noted for their never ending efforts and support to town activities and safety. This year a very special young lady, Shannon Mountford, an Ayer-Shirley Middle School student, sang the National Anthem for everyone -- what a voice from that 12 year old young lady!

We were all quite fortunate to have had private donations this year which enabled the Shirley American Legion to host a luncheon reception at the War Memorial Building after the ceremonies, for which there was also a very good turnout.

I know that since the initial closing of Fort Devens a decade ago, there have been feelings of sadness and loss by townspeople and veterans alike. But now there seems to be an upswing of positive feelings toward Shirley's veterans because of the rejuvenation of the Fort and the activities of the Shirley American Legion. It is encouraging to observe the increasing degree of support for veterans here in Shirley. Let's keep this trend going for those folks who have in the past and those who now continue to protect our freedoms. See you all on Memorial Day.

CHARLES B. CHURCH

Commander/Chaplain

Shirley American Legion