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IMG_3791On Sunday, November 22, Governor Charlie Baker and First Lady Lauren Baker were in Boston to volunteer with Boston Rescue Mission. As part of the 23rd Annual “Day of Thanks,” the Governor and First Lady joined the Reverend John Samaan, President and CEO of the Boston Rescue Mission, along with dozens of volunteers and Mission staff in serving complete Thanksgiving meals to homeless families. Dozens of needy families also took home baskets filled with turkeys and all the trimmings to their own dinner tables.

Since their founding in 1899, the Boston Rescue Mission has aided the homeless and poor of Greater Boston to self-sufficiency by assisting women and men in confronting and overcoming the root causes of their homelessness.

Later on Sunday afternoon, Governor and Mrs. Baker stopped by Boston City Councillor Tito Jackson’s 5th Annual “Turkey Giveaway” at the Reggie Lewis Center in Roxbury. More than 50,000 pounds of turkey’s were handed out.

On Monday, during a ceremony in Cambridge, Governor Baker joined Public Safety Secretary Daniel Bennett and State Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan to honor firefighters from 22 Massachusetts fire departments for heroic acts of bravery at the 26th annual “Firefighter of the Year” Awards ceremony, held at MIT’s Kresge Auditorium.

“This year’s award recipients are each fine examples of the instinct that all firefighters possess to help others. We honor these heroic men and women of the Massachusetts fire service who deployed their training and experience to protect those in need – often at great risk to themselves.” – Governor Baker

“Everyone knows that firefighting is a dangerous job, but sometimes the dangers are hidden,” said State Fire Marshal Coan. “Witnessing the suffering of others takes its toll and sometimes we need someone to be there for our firefighters to ensure they keep their physical, mental and emotional health, and can continue to serve.”

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Later, joined by active duty members and veterans of the Armed Services, Secretary of Veterans’ Services Francisco Ureña and members of the legislature, Governor Charlie Baker signed five pieces of legislation supporting members of the Armed Services, veterans, first responders and their families, including bills making “stolen valor” a crime punishable by imprisonment and/or fine and granting Purple Heart recipients free access to state parks.

“The brave men and women and their families who sacrifice so much for our freedom and safety at home and abroad deserve our support and gratitude,” said Governor Baker. “I thank the legislature for taking these important steps to ensure our first responders, veterans and active duty military receive the utmost respect and dignity.”

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The five bills signed into law by Governor Baker are:

  • An Act relative to the false representation of military status (H.B. 1641), making it a crime, punishable by imprisonment for not more than 1 year, a fine of $1,000 or both, for any person to fraudulently represent themselves as an active member or veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces, including through the unauthorized use of military gear, regalia or honors with the intent to obtain money, property or any other tangible benefit.
  • An Act providing free access to certain parks and recreation areas to Purple Heart recipients (H.B. 3243), adding recipients of Purple Hearts to the list of persons exempt from admission fees at state recreation areas and parks, under section 2D of chapter 132A of the General Laws.
  • An Act providing further penalties for intentional loss or damage to a gravestone or other grave marker (H.B. 1600), requiring any person convicted of willfully damaging a war memorial, gravestone, or veteran’s gravemarker to pay restitution to property owners in addition to existing provisions imposing imprisonment and fines.
  • An Act relative to the removal of commemorative flag holders from the graves of veterans and certain police and fire personnel (H.B. 3173), adding the American Flag, commemorative flag holders, and other emblems memorializing service by veterans, police officers, and firefighters to the list of objects protected from theft or destruction under MGL Chapter 272 Section 73.
  • An act relative to grave markers to commemorate the grave of a veteran, police officer or firefighter (H.B. 1306), making it a crime to buy or sell stolen grave markers, headstones and monuments honoring veterans, police officers and firefighters.

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