Impressive Veterans Day Exercises Held at the Chelsea Soldiers Home

The Chelsea Soldiers Home conducted impressive exercises in observance of Veterans Day last Thursday morning.

The Chelsea High Band, Cantare, and Orchestra provided the musical background for the ceremonies with an outstanding performance of appropriate military-themed music throughout the ceremonies.

Eric L. Johnson, SFC U.S. Army (Ret.), the Superintendent of the Soldiers Home, greeted the guests, who included a host of dignitaries, including former Soldiers Home Supt. Cheryl Lussier Poppe, Col. U.S. Army (Ret.), who is the Secretary for the Mass. Dept. of Veterans Services.

Also on hand were Chelsea City Manager Tom Ambrosino, Chelsea Schools Supt. Dr. Almudena (Almi) G. Abeyta, Chelsea City Councilor Leo Robinson, and Revere City Councilor Ira Novoselsky. Both Robinson (Air Force) and Novoselsky (Army) are Vietnam War-era veterans and  Novoselsky is a member of the Soldiers Home Board of Trustees.

Fr. Michael O’Hara, the chaplain of the Soldiers Home, presented the opening Invocation and Rabbi Seth Novoselsky, the son of Ira Novoselsky, gave the Benediction.

C. Andrew McCawley, Capt. U.S. Navy (Ret.), who is the President and CEO of the New England Center and Home for Veterans, was the guest speaker and delivered a stirring and informative tribute to our nation’s veterans in which he stressed the need to take care of our veterans in their later years.

“This location, here on the crest of PowderHorn Hill in the City of Chelsea, set aside, established, and constructed as a Massachusetts institution almost a century and a half ago, to ensure the care and dignity of the Commonwealth’s military Veterans, is altogether a fitting and appropriate setting for such a ceremony,” said McCawley.

“So what here on this day, and at this location, would be fitting to speak about? There are many aspects of military service to this nation, and even more ways that one might convey the vital contributions, impact, and legacy of Veterans,” McCawley continued.

“In and of itself, this, the second oldest and oldest continually operating State home for Veterans in the nation, is inextricably woven into the historical fabric of Massachusetts, the City of Chelsea, our community’s public and private institutions, and our society’s value on public service, sacrifice, and honoring promises made,” added McCawley, who noted the long-standing legacy of Lawrence F. Quigley, who served as an 11-term Mayor of Chelsea and then as the Commandant at the Home for 14 years and who was succeeded by his son, John, who then served as Commandant for more than 30 years thereafter.

McCawley also gave an interesting historical perspective of the genesis of providing homes for aging veterans that can be traced to the 17th century in France and (ironically) in Chelsea, London, England.

“The Soldiers Home here in Chelsea, a Massachusetts institution with a long and rich national and international heritage of ensuring that EVERY Day is Veterans Day, still exemplifies the honor and support that the people of this great Commonwealth, and of our entire nation accord to those who have served,” said McCawley. “It is old and storied, and perhaps (in some places) a bit tired. But it is being refreshed and even born anew. With the ongoing and continuing upgrades, construction and redevelopments, (exemplified by this wonderful new facility) it will continue to uphold its heritage, and house, serve, and care for our Veterans.”

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