Goodbye, Graduates and Guardsmen

There are, in politics, as in life, some things you have to do.

And, there are some things you have to do that you don't enjoy.

But the past 10 days have included a series of things this Representative had to do, and wanted to do, and enjoyed.

Among them was the chance to join Col. Dan Swift, Commander of the 104th Fighter Wing, on the flightline to personally welcome the Air National Guard pilots from Battle Creek and Boise who flew into our own Barnes Airport in Westfield this week to join our guard unit for deployment to Kosovo.

And, the next day, to bid farewell to the troops and ground support flying out of Westfield to join the NATO forces.

It was an honor to be included, along with Senators Ted Kennedy and John Kerry, Lt. Gov. Jane Swift, our Mayor Rick Sullivan, our State Senator Michael Knapik, and a host of military dignitaries on the program to say goodbye.

It was a day of excitement, emotion, and eagerness. And a day to be proud of our Air National Guard members who are prepared, and who are good. They've won every award possible.

But it was also a day of concern, as they left to face as yet unknown challenges in combat. Our thoughts and our prayers have to be with each and every one of them, every single day and night, until they return.

Adding to the weeks excitement....this mornings commencement at Westfield State College. To see the tent, to hear the speakers, to watch the excitement of graduates and parents alike, is a thrill each and every year.

I particularly enjoy watching the graduates come to the platform to get their diplomas. Some come quietly, some accompanied by huge cheers from family and friends. Some shyly accept their sheepskin, others literally jump for joy.

Father Dean, the Catholic Chaplain at WSC, always gets the biggest applause when he very simply greets the students and thousands in attendance with his big, hearty, and familiar, "Yo."

Nontraditional graduates were feted a week ago, at a special dinner and recognition ceremony. Again, one of my favorite events. Especially when, like this year, a 70-something woman earned her BA, after retiring from her job and 49 years after first being accepted. (She didn't go that year, 1950, but she got a standing ovation this year, for her speech to the assembled crowd.)

I got to do a radio interview in the past ten days, as well. As guest, not host, for a change. It was the for the state's radio reading service for the blind, broadcasting from the State House.

Where I sat on the committees hearing the Patriots legislation. Although, I still enjoy all of the hearings we hold in the State House, this one was more interesting than some. After all, it involved professional sports. And, money. And controversy.

Unfortunately, the Patriots hearing coincided with office visits of many of the 160 area people who took buses to Boston Monday to protest the state's new gun regulations. Although I was able to greet many, I apologize to the others who I was unable to see but who were greeted by my staff. It's that old, "can't be in two or three places at once" problem.

What's not to like about having breakfast with about 100 physicians? Well, okay, it was 7 a.m. and the food was really pretty dreadful. But it was most enjoyable to talk with the members of the Hampden County Medical Society about HMO reform and reimbursement for medicaid and medicare patients and mental health parity.

Thank you to the Executive Office of Health and Human Services for a meeting with Mayor Sullivan and myself to discuss possible services for our refugee population. And to the Division of Youth Services for the update on expansion of Westfield's detention center. Exciting possibilities for our area.

And thank you, Al Ferst and family, for the Amelia Ferst hockey center. It was great to be at the Ground Breaking.

And great, as well, to be at the Council on Aging Health Fair yesterday, too.

On the lighter side, I was a judge at a chocolate dessert contest! Do you know how difficult it is to choose one favorite out of about 30 desserts created by restaurant chefs? (The chocolate bread pudding was my favorite.)

All materials copyright 1997 - 2014