The Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke marked the 12th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks with a solemn ceremony and with a National Day of Service that included volunteers building historical biographical sketches of Soldiers’ Home veterans. Since 2001, individuals and organizations have responded to 9/11 with service and volunteer efforts, many supporting the philanthropic wishes and interests of those killed on 9/11.
The ceremony honored and remembered the two million Americans who have gone to war since 9/11. Since Sept. 11, 2001, 142 sons and daughters of Massachusetts paid the ultimate sacrifice and were killed in action in service to our country in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. Each name was read during the ceremony.
At the Soldiers’ Home, volunteers with the Corporation for National and Community Service, a federal agency, spent the day at the home with veterans. Throughout the day, volunteers from New England Farm Workers Council AmeriCorps VISTA met with veterans in the Home’s canteen and in recreation room and developed dozens of mini photo-biographies of veterans including a photograph of when a veteran served and one taken at the event by a professional photographer.
The service day also included an art exhibit by Amherst artist, Chris Demarest, which will be available for the public through the month of September. In May 2011, Demarest began a project at the Women’s Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery, celebrating those Americans who helped in the effort to win the Second World War, from those on the war front to back at the home front. Working from black and white photographs, Demarest created portraits of this generation and brought their service to life on canvass.
In 2009, Congress formally acknowledged and supported with the establishment of the September 11 National Day of Service and Remembrance. The Soldiers’ Home ceremony celebrated that spirit of volunteerism, as it had since 2001.