BURRILLVILLE – On Armed Forces Day, veterans and current members serving in the military were honored at a celebration at Pascoag Community Baptist Church & Community Christian School.
For a packed audience of more than 100 people at the church, a service was held, patriotic music performed and speeches presented, followed by a free cookout with games and prizes for children.
Among the presenters of the day were state Sen. Jessica de la Cruz, and Burrillville Town Councilor Dennis Anderson.
Armed Forces Day is held annually on the third Saturday in May. The date was announced by Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson on August 31, 1949 to replace separate Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps days. Johnson was working under the leadership of Pres. Harry Truman, who called for Americans to take up the cause of honoring people who serve the country in the military.
Pascoag Community Baptist Church & Community Christian School decided to take up the call to duty.
“Today is a day we want every veteran and active service member to feel honored and be our special guests,” said Rev. Bryan Speroni, pastor of the church. “We really appreciate their self-sacrifices and patriotism and their sense of duty to our country. The kids from the school are all enthusiastic about participating.”
Deacon Roger Lacroix said that teaching the youngsters, “that freedom isn’t free,” and, “the value of patriotism,” is important.
“Most kids have no concept of patriotism and the sacrifices that have been made,” he said.
“I think it’s wonderful to honor those who fought for our country,” said Christine Obeng-Darko, a first and second grade teacher at the school whose children, Ethan Obeng-Darko, 10, and his sister, Charity Obeng-Darko, 14, participated in the music program.
Teacher’s aid Katy Speroni perfomed My Country Tis of Thee, along with her pastor father and her siblings.
Among the other young people who participated in the day’s program was Esteban Andres, age 9, and Jasmine, age 7. Their mother, Dalia Andres said it was the first time her kids participated in such an event, and that the youngsters were, “very excited,” to join in.
The deacon explained how the event came about.
“Early in the year at a business meeting at church when discussing possible outreach to the community, it came up that everyone’s usually busy on Memorial Day, so I thought by honoring Armed Services Day people would be more available to participate and attend,” said Lacroix, noting Speroni, “thought it was a great idea,” – as did the military veterans and current members of the armed services.
Burrrilville Town Councilor Raymond Trinque, who is also commander of Berard-Desjarlais American Legion Post 88, attended the event with fellow armed services friends.
Trinque, an army veteran, said he was was pleased the church, rather than just the town, was putting on a patriotic event to honor the military.
Army Lt. Col. Christopher Toti, also of Burrilville, said the church did, “a fantastic job recognizing patriotism and valor of the military members and veterans of the armed forces.”
His brother, Carl Toti, a veteran who served as a Specialist 3rd Armored Cavalry in Fort Bliss, Texas, was also pleased, saying, “I wish more churches and local organizations would have a day like this to recognize the sacrifices of our armed forces to maintain freedom we enjoy.”