Communities across America held ceremonies in observance of Memorial Day on Monday. On Sunday, I attended a ceremony for communities that have been unable to hold their own ceremony since construction began of the Quabbin Reservoir. Every year, veterans, historic societies, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and others from across the region gather at Quabbin Park Cemetery to honor the fallen from the towns of Greenwich, Dana, Prescott, and Enfield.
I’ve been attending the Memorial Day ceremony at Quabbin Park Cemetery for the past several years. I’ve always found that the ceremony serves a dual purpose. In addition to honoring those who gave the last full measure of devotion, it also serves as a poignant reminder of the sacrifice made by the citizens of the four lost towns of the Quabbin.
The ceremony starts with a parade through the cemetery where the graves of the lost towns were relocated. It includes a recitation of the World War I poem, In Flanders Fields, and the Gettysburg Address. The Belchertown Community Band was also on hand every year to perform a number of patriotic selections, as well. A service member of the armed forces also escorts family members from the lost towns of the Quabbin to lay wreaths at markers memorializing each of those towns.
This year, state Senator Stephen Brewer mentioned the Valor Act, which, among other things, will ease the cost of housing for veterans. The bill has yet to be signed into law, however, but it is expected to be. Brewer said that veterans’ organizations have hailed the way the Commonwealth takes care of its veterans as the best in the nation.
Every community across Massachusetts have a Veterans Services Agent who helps veterans navigate the government bureaucracy to obtain the benefits for which they are entitled.
There are also things that we can do to help veterans by helping out where we can. As this is a real estate blog, I will focus on that angle. The VA loan is a loan backed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) that allows veterans to buy a home without a down payment. Although home sellers sometimes perceive a risk with proceeding with a deal with a less-than-significant amount of earnest money, they should also consider the risk that veterans assumed when they put themselves in harm’s way for our way of life. In my humble opinion, home sellers should feel duty-bound to work with anyone purchasing a home with a VA loan.
Further, local banks don’t typically take on originating VA loans, but they should. Perhaps smaller banks do not deal with VA loans because of the amount of paperwork involved or because they are not profitable enough to make it worthwhile. Perhaps the VA should streamline the VA loan application process to provide an incentive for local banks to take these types of loans on. The big banks have failed our nation’s veterans by foreclosing on them unnecessarily, so local banks should step up to provide our service men and women with a choice.
The State Legislature is working a bill, An Act to prevent unlawful and unnecessary foreclosures, that will address this for everyone that have fallen victim to said unlawful and unnecessary forclosures.
As we remember the fallen on Memorial Day and as we honor veterans on Veterans Day, we should remember that our admiration, respect, and gratitude should not be restricted to these two days a year. Although we already know this as there are countless news stories of volunteers helping veterans, wounded warriors, active-duty members, and their families; I have been watching a Band of Brothers marathon as I wrote this, so i may have been inspired to say it again.
Specializing in western Massachusetts real estate, call Michael Seward at 413-531-7129 if you are a veteran looking to buy or sell a home in the Pioneer Valley.