Wednesday June 19, 2013

To the editor of THE EAGLE:

We live in a beautiful corner of the world, natural beauty in lakes, mountains and woods, cultural life that is abundant and historical places that amaze. As much as we appreciate all this, it is the people that are our greatest asset. Our mission as the Here at Home Committee is to welcome home those who have borne the battle for the U.S., to honor and thank them and their families for the sacrifice and dedication.

Last summer, it was our difficult honor to help organize a fitting final homecoming for Michael DeMarsico and again this May for Mitchell Daehling. The people of Berkshire County were so gracious and willing. People in the thousands came out to stand along routes and highways, many carrying flags, many holding hands over hearts or saluting as the motorcades passed by. Police officers, firefighters, veterans, dignitaries and "just you and me" lined streets outside of schools, businesses and churches, along routes day after day in oppressive heat, or rain and wind to show respect and honor. If any of these gestures gave even a small comfort and solace to the families, we have been successful. Thank-you is an inadequate word to express what we want to say. We are so blessed to live among you.

Our purpose is to show in some small way that this community of friends and neighbors and strangers appreciate and honor soldiers returning from battle.


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We do understand that is not enough; that battle leaves scars and terrors we can never understand. We have experienced this also and our hearts ache at these losses. What we can do as a community is to continue to say welcome home and we appreciate you. We have welcomed home many young men and women since 2006 and will continue. It is our hope and desire that it is a gesture that will be treasured by "our" soldiers and their families.

We are a small group of volunteers that invite you to join us. We have to be invited by the family of a returning soldier. We need our community of wonderful caring Berkshireites to let families know about this opportunity. We want to be able to show each one that they are remembered and valued.

How? We have a website, HereAtHomeCommittee.org and an email: hereathomecommittee@gmail.com; or call the veterans agent office at Pittsfield City Hall.

Want to experience a happy welcome? We have been invited to welcome home 1st LT Ryan Cowan at 1 p.m. this Saturday, June 22 at 156 Harryl St., Pittsfield. We gather on his street about 15 minutes before he is scheduled to arrive to line the street. You’re Here at Home Committee arranges for a police escort so you will know when he is close! We have flags for each of you to use, and will have a plaque to present to him. WJ Bluprints provides us with a personalized banner, the mayor will provide a proclamation from Pittsfield. "Our" Here at Home song by Mary Verdi plays and a CD is presented. Later, if we have permission and the funds, a billboard is installed. This all takes place in about a half hourĊ  a small portion of your day that will be remembered by this family.

This is a small but important gesture. Again, we at H@H want to say a huge thank-you to Berkshire County. You are amazing! ROSANNE FRIERI

Pittsfield

Roseanne Frieri is the director of Veterans Services in Pittsfield. The letter was also signed by committee members Mary Verdi, Brian Berkel, Joseph Bourquard, Shanna Willis, Melissa Mazzeo, and Kathryn Mickle, chair.