PITTSFIELD -- Six-year-old Eddie Barrett came prepared to honor those marching in Pittsfield's Veterans Day parade.

Accompanied by his parents, the student from Williams Elementary School stood along the parade route on South Street and held up a sign that stated "THANK YOU VETERANS."

Barrett's message drew an immediate response from Tyrone Belanger of Lanesborough.

"Nice sign, good sign," said Belanger, leading the color guard for Berkshire Chapter 65 of the Vietnam Veterans of America.

Barrett showed his support for the veterans "because they help the country."

The youngster was among the hundreds of people of all ages on Monday paying tribute to the area men and women who fought around the globe to protect America. The annual parade featured veterans organizations, political dignitaries and the Taconic and Pittsfield high schools' marching bands. It concluded with a ceremony at the Pittsfield Veterans Memorial on Veterans Way off South Street.


PHOTO GALLERY | Parade marches through Pittsfield for Veterans Day


Following the tradition of veterans groups laying wreaths at the base of the monument, keynote speaker Rabbi Josh Breindel of Temple Anshe Amunim in Pittsfield had a simple message for the veterans.

"Thank you," Breindel said. "Thank you for your service, providing safety and security in the most profound way possible.


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To the rest of the gathering, Breindel said, "May we commit ourselves to never take their service for granted."

Mayor Daniel L. Bianchi said thousands of city residents have answered the call to defend the country, sacrificing the comforts of home for the horrors of war.

"Valuable lives were interrupted by a call of duty," Bianchi told the crowd. "A lot of them left young and many returned older."

The mayor also called upon city residents to remember those still serving around the world in harm's way and hope for long-lasting peace for future Veterans Day remembrances.

During Monday's ceremony, Henry Morris was named Pittsfield's Veteran of the Year. A retired carpenter, the husband and father of two daughters served in the Army and fought in the Vietnam War. Morris was cited for his volunteerism with several veterans groups, praise he quickly shared with others.

"This award represents the work of many volunteers of programs such as the Welcome Home Committee," he said.

Back on the parade route, Mike Wendling and friends were cooking up breakfast sandwiches and hash browns -- free of charge -- for veterans and non-veterans.

"We have a group of friends and family here, all to show our support for veterans," said Wendling, the owner of O'Laughlin's Pub in Pittsfield. "We just had a group of Vietnam Veterans show up."

Wendling, an Army veteran from Lanesborough, and Joe Murray of Pittsfield got the idea of tailgating four years ago, in part, to encourage more people to attend the parade and ceremony.

"It's an hour out of the day for people to take time to support veterans," said Murray.

To reach Dick Lindsay:

rlindsay@berkshireeagle.com,

or (413) 496-6233.