Veterans Day is formally known to fall upon Nov. 11; it is an official United States public holiday to honor military veterans who are no longer serving in the military. Veterans Day coincides with Armistice Day, which honors the armistice signed between the allies of World War I and Germany, and Remembrance Day, which is also known as Poppy Day and honors members of the Commonwealth of Nations armed forces who have died. Veterans day is not the same as Memorial Day, which honors those who have died while in military service, or the same as Armed Forces Day, which honors those who are currently serving in the military.
As recorded on the Library of Congress’ website, on Nov. 11, 1919 former President Woodrow Wilson issued a message on the first Armistice Day, saying that “the victory of arms [of World War I] foretells the enduring conquests which can be made in peace when nations act justly and in furtherance of the common interests of men.” In 1945, WWII Veteran Raymond Weeks, had the idea to expand Armistice Day to celebrate all veterans, and he led a delegation to Gen. Dwight Eisenhower, who supported the idea. Veteran Weeks was honored in 1982 at the White House with the Presidential Citizenship Medal, and Elizabeth Dole, who prepared the briefing that day for President Reagan, titled Weeks as the “Father of Veterans Day.”
In Norton, there are two veteran organizations: V.F.W. / Fillmore-Nason Post #8049, and the American Legion / Lt. Harold A. Healy Post #222. Norton puts on its own annual Veterans Day parade, organized by the Norton’s Veterans Council. The parade this year was held on Nov. 11. As said on Norton’s website, participants of the parade assemble “at the Henri A. Yelle School Parking lot at 12:30 p.m. and step off at 1:00 p.m. All active and retired military personnel are welcome to march. Route will be east on Main Street to the stone monument at the corner of Pine/Main Street. After a brief ceremony we will reform and proceed west on Main Street to the Master Sergeant Trent Memorial for a brief ceremony.”
Norton’s Veterans Day parade usually includes Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts troops, as well as the Norton High School band. This year, Rev. Bernie Hinckley, the Norton Fire Department chaplain and minister at the Trinitarian Congregational Church, recited an invocation at the first ceremony. The second ceremony at the Master Sergeant Trent Memorial included a guest speaker, Captain Joshua Lee, an active member of the Massachusetts Air National Guard who is about to be deployed for the fourth time.
The parade, which gathers and performs its first ceremony near Wheaton College, is always open to students who wish to watch the ceremonies and attend the parade each year.