Veterans' Day Westport: 'Ask what you can do'

By Ted Hayes
Posted 11/14/23

One cold January day nearly 62 years ago, a young President John F. Kennedy told his fellow Americans to “ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your …

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Veterans' Day Westport: 'Ask what you can do'


One cold January day nearly 62 years ago, a young President John F. Kennedy told his fellow Americans to “ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.’

Decades later, after Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq and countless small encounters, “our veterans have answered and continue to answer our summons,” Vietnam veteran Joseph Macy told a large crowd gathered for Veterans’ Day ceremonies at Beech Grove cemetery Saturday morning.

“They serve, they don’t brag. “They show up. They don’t show up.”

Macy, a 1961 graduate of Durfee High School, earned a law degree at Brown University before serving in the US Army Infantry in Vietnam from 1968 to 1971. Though he left the service decades ago for a successful career as an attorney and judge on the Massachusetts Trial Court, Macy has long been involved in veterans’ causes and told the crowd Saturday that he always feels honored to be asked to speak for and about veterans — “I consider it a privilege to do so,” said Macy, Saturday’s keynote speaker.

Westport counts more than 1,000 veterans among its population, and Macy and others said Saturday morning that the town’s dedication to the Armed Forces is priceless to the men and women who have served and continue to do so. Here, said American Legion representative Tony Vieira, they have found a welcoming community that appreciates the sacrifices its service members have made.

But nationwide, select board chairman Richard Brewer said, the military is having a hard time recruiting members.

He has a vision, he told the crowd, that youngsters will continue to be taught the value of service to country, and will also answer Kennedy’s call.

“I have a vision thatsomeday down the road, when I am no longer a selectman, I’ll be at Lee’s Market and somebody will tap me on the shoulder and say, ‘Mr. Brewer, I’m a member of the Armed Forces and I’m here in part because of remarks you made eight or 10 years ago.’”

“This would make my day.”

Though their service “commands neither high salary nor great prestige,” added Macy, veterans are “silent heroes who served and returned, asking nothing of us. Today, we honor them.

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A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.