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Veterans Day ceremony reflects on the conflicts of years ago and those now being fought

The North Attleborough High School Band performs the National Anthem at the town’s Veterans Day ceremony. Staff Photo/Adam Bass

Tim O’Brien and Tim Higgins are retired army colonels and close friends.

Graduates of the 1978 class at West Point, the two got together on Veterans Day, meeting up with their friends and comrades they served within the army and the different branches of the Armed Forces.

“It’s a day to remember everyone,” O’Brien said. “Whether it be another member in the armed forces or someone from another country, you never forget the comradery.”

Higgins and O’Brien were one of many veterans from North Attleborough and Plainville that attended the Veterans Day ceremony at the World War I Memorial on Nov. 11. The ceremony, hosted by Veterans Agent Stephen Travers, featured speeches from local elected officials, the presentation of colors by the Disabled American Veterans Color Guard and North Attleborough Police Department, and a rendition of the National Anthem and the songs of the five branches of the Armed Forces performed by the North Attleborough High School Band.

According to Travers, this year’s Veterans Day celebration marks 50 years since mandatory conscription was ended in the United States. The draft had been employed in six different wars: the American Revolutionary War, The Civil War, World War I, World War II, The Korean War and The Vietnam War. On Jan. 27, 1973, the United States ended the draft, two years after President Richard Nixon signed legislation that ended conscription.

“The end result was the same,” Travers said. “Since 1775, our nation’s fighting men and women have sacrificed everything so that we can have our freedoms today.”

Per the event’s tradition, Lt. Colonel Scott Langlands was chosen as this year’s special guest speaker. Langlands, who lives in North Attleborough, was deployed in Operation Iraqi Freedom during the War on Terror in 2005 and has received several military decorations such as the Bronze Star, an award given to those who have shown valor on the battlefield.

In his speech, Langlands talked not only about the need to protect the country from combat, but also from disinformation. He said those who spread misinformation about the election put the country’s democracy at risk and that those who provide factual information can help prevent the spread of what he called “cyber warfare.”

“The battlefield is now located in the same cyberspace that celebrities fight to remain relevant,” Langlands said. “The advent of cyberspace has added a new dimension of warfare, where the country’s will to fight rests even more so with the collective voice of the people.”

While the day was one for reflection, for others, such as Tim O’Brien and Tim Higgins, Veterans Day was one to reconnect with friends and family and thank those who have fought to keep the country safe from harm, both foreign and domestic.

“It’s an opportunity to thank those who have served,” Higgins said. “They all made a contribution.”

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