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By DAVID CAMPHOUSE
Winchester held its annual Veterans Day ceremony on Thursday, Nov. 11, next to the community’s Veterans Monument.
The event featured an address by Luke Bigelow and a prayer by St. Mark’s Michael Scott.
The past weekend also held the second annual Winchester Veterans’ Ball, held at the American Legion Hall. According to Post Commander Matt Barber, the ball serves as a fundraiser, as well as an opportunity for community-building for service members and civilians alike.
The proceeds of the ball are an important source of revenue for the American Legion post. The American Legion, Barber said, serves an important purpose in the lives of veterans and their families.
“The money we make goes into the building fund, just to keep the lights on,” Barber said. “We have a nice hall in a nice location in Winchester. We do funerals for vets and it’s a place where vets can go and experience the camaraderie they are missing after leaving the service.”
Barber reported that attendance at the ball was larger this year than last year.
“We had a bigger turnout this year – about 86 people,” Barber said. “Last year we had 76.”
Last year’s inaugural Veterans’ Ball, according to Barber, led the American Legion to undertake the renovation of the legion hall.
“Because of the ball, we ended up doing renovations,” Barber said. “It needed updating. We put up maps and information on the history of veterans from Winchester.”
The Veterans’ Ball event also led the American Legion post to consider other means of fundraising, including renting the legion hall out for private events.
“Fundraising has been difficult with COVID,” Barber said. “We were trying to think of different ways the building could be used for fundraising. Since February, we’ve rented the building close to 20 times.”
Funds generated by the rental of the American Legion hall go toward keeping the structure in good shape and toward funding the post-secondary educations’ of Winchester students.
“All the money goes back into the building fund or the scholarship fund,” Barber said. “The scholarships are given to graduating seniors in Winchester.”
Barber said Winchester’s American Legion post benefits from having a multigenerational membership. Barber credited the leadership of Nichole Mason for bringing in younger service members into the post.
“That goes back to Nichole Mason,” Barber said. “She got her husband Scott involved, and that brought me along. The nice thing is we’ve got younger veterans, but we’ve still got the older group as well. We’ve got members from Korea, Vietnam, though Iraq and Afghanistan. The younger members haven’t pushed the older ones out, and I think they appreciate the younger vets taking on some of the fundraising duties.”
Veterans Day honors all veterans who have served the U.S. military. It was created, originally called Armistice Day, by President Woodrow Wilson to honor the end of WWI.
Congress recognized Armistice Day as a national holiday in 1938. The name of the holiday was officially changed to Veterans Day in 1954.