What a Glorious Day Wednesday Was!

The Veterans of Massachusetts have had a pretty good couple weeks!

First, last week, the House approved legislation making veterans pensions tax-free, the same as they are in every other state.

Then, this Wednesday, we dedicated the new Veterans Cemetery in Agawam.

There was a crowd--Governor Paul Cellucci and assorted other politicians, several hundred veterans, and some neighbors who abut the 57 acre plot. Even a seeing-eye dog in training.

Speakers and citations. Taps and a firing party. A former POW and two Medal of Honor Winners. Some gold star mothers. Color guards and flags and bands.

There was a flyover by a lone helicopter--your mayor, senator and I all agreed the A-10s from the 104th from Barnes would have been more impressive, but it was a nice touch.

The sun was shining, the leaves couldn't have been brighter. The bleachers were filled to capacity. Everyone even got a free lunch at Riverside Park's new grove.

It was a five million dollar project. The Federal Government chipped in almost $2.3-million, and Massachusetts came up with almost two.

But the biggest donor of all was a quiet guy, wearing a baseball hat, jeans and a vest. There he was, on the platform, plum in the middle of what looked like it had been a cornfield the day before. He didn't say a word.

Edward Squazza. He donated the farm where the new cemetery will be developed. During World War II, Ed didn't serve in the military--he was exempt, home in Agawam, growing the food we needed to sustain ourselves and our troops. But Ed wanted to thank all the men and women who did serve.

So there we were, in his field. A cornfield soon to be the Massachusetts Memorial Veterans Cemetery.

Building will start in 1998, and the cemetery is scheduled to open in May of 2000. Massachusetts veterans and their wives will be eligible for burial there.

And, there is a need. Some 48,625 veterans will die in the four counties of Western Massachusetts between the year 2000 and 2025. So locating a veterans cemetery in his area is a good alternative to the national veterans cemetery in Bourne.

And this is a good way to thank them for their service to our country and the free people of the world.

The biggest thanks of all, however, are reserved for the quiet farmer who donated a million dollars worth of land.

Edward Squazza.

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