PEPPERELL -- "Veterans never complain, they never ask for more, they never look for help. They just quietly serve and we never give enough thanks to the veterans," said Sen. Eileen Donoghue.
On Oct. 5, veterans from every conflict from World War II to the Iraq war sat silently and listened as Donoghue addressed the gathered crowd in the cafeteria at the Pepperell Senior Center. Donoghue was the sponsor and guest speaker for the Pepperell Army Community Covenant's monthly veteran's breakfast.
Prior to speaking, Donoghue went around the room, shook hands and spoke with each veteran individually. Donoghue, whose father served in World War II, said she had always had a profound respect for the sacrifices of military members.
"It meant a whole lot to us kids growing up. We were lucky our dad came home and raised his kids," she said.
Donoghue said she is proud to support and vote for the VALOR Act, which Gov. Deval Patrick signed on May 31. The act helps to provide financial assistance to veterans and their families, especially those injured in the line of duty, many of whom come back from their service and are unable to find work or adequate housing.
"(The act provides) them with some of the help they so desperately need," Donoghue said.
She encouraged the veterans to reach out to her if they were in need of any assistance she could help provide. If nothing else, she said, she was proud to be able to address the crowd.
"To give us the opportunity to stand in a beautiful center like this on a beautiful day like this and not worry about our freedoms ... being able to offer breakfast seems like a small gesture, but one that I'm very honored to be able to participate in," she said.
As she spoke, veterans and members of the general public enjoyed a free breakfast provided by the covenant and served by volunteers, including Town Administrator John Moak, barely recognizable beneath the baseball cap covering his face as he scooped scrambled eggs. Moak said he thought is was a great way to show respect in a low-key environment.
"It's a comfortable way to honor all the veterans without the fanfare so they can come relax and eat some breakfast," he said.
State Rep. Sheila Harrington was also in attendence to show support both for the military members and for her friend Donoghue.
"Nobody on Beacon Hill supports the veterans like she does," said Harrington. "The words 'we can't thank you enough' is something that we both feel, so we always try to come to events like this."
The breakfasts have been taking place for nearly a year, according to covenant Chairman Stephen Themelis. The first anniversary will be in November. Each breakfast is sponsored by a different guest speaker.
"It's a privilege for us," said Themelis. "We get all kinds of support from the community, that's the easiest part of the job. As long as there's a passion in the community to keep it up, we're going to keep doing it."
Many of the veterans in attendance have attended each of the monthly events -- some for the speakers, others for the breakfast.
"I've been coming since the beginning. I haven't missed a day yet," said Ken English Jr.
English not only served in the Navy from 1969 to 1971 and fought in Vietnam, he also served in Iraq in the 1/10th Maintenance Company, Army National Guard from 2003 to 2004.
Comparing the two separate experiences, he said, "Every war is scary."
Albert Harris, who served in the Army from 1963 to 1965, said he's always happy to see town department members like Moak helping out behind the scenes at the breakfasts.
"It's a good community effort," he said.
Harris and the other veterans present were also pleased with Donoghue's speech.
"She does a good job of it. She's very nice," he said.
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