For many in Brookline, Veterans Day has always been a day of pride, filled with waving flags, cheering and "thank you"s to the town's veterans for the service they give. Today, those same flags waved, people clapped and cheered, but for some, the ceremony was bittersweet.
Brookline firefighter Brian Cadman, an Army sergeant, recently returned from a year-long deployment in Iraq. He was joined by Brookline police officers Russell O'Neil, Andrew Amendola and Duane Danforth. O'Neil, an Army captain and Amendola, an Army sergeant and Purple Heart recipient, both recently returned from combat duty in Afghanistan. Danforth, an Army sergeant, is due to be deployed in January and will be assigned to seek and destroy roadside mines. All four men are decorated combat veterans.
Brookline Police Chief Daniel O'Leary spoke, detailing the service of O'Neil and Amendola. They in turn presented the chief with American flags that they carried into combat. Those flags will be on display in the lobby of the Public Safety Building.
Chief O'Leary then presented Sgt. Danforth with an American flag that he will carry during his 18-month deployment. Upon his safe return, that flag will join the others on display.
Selectman Jesse Mermell also spoke to the crowd, giving a heartwarming account of how her grandmother and grandfather met while both served in the military during World War II. She also expressed her gratitude to the Brookline veterans past and present for their service in protection of American rights and freedom.
The ceremony ended with the reading the names of veterans from the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars who passed on over the past year.