Many of the veterans in attendance came from families in which fathers or mothers, son or daughters, husbands or wives had also served.
Bill Pcheny served in the Navy in 1946 and ‘47 toward the end of World War II, and his wife, Josephine, was an Air Force captain and nurse who was stationed at a hospital in England during the Korean War.
Bill Pcheny said he’s noticed that more people seem to be acknowledging veterans’ contributions. When he wears his World War II hat, people often thank him for his service.
“It really fascinates me,” he said.
Army veteran Walter Pilkons attended the event with his son, Steven, who recently returned from Iraq. Pilkons’ wife and two step-daughters also served in the military, and his father was a World War II veteran.
Pilkons said his father rarely talked about his war experience, so it’s good for veterans to gather and offer support.
“It is therapeutic,” he said. “It’s good to talk to people who understand.”
As the veterans ate breakfast, the Riverside Renaissance Swing Band provided music from the auditorium balcony. After the meal, Bettencourt read off the names of 110 World War II veterans in attendance. Students from Peabody High School’s Air Force Junior ROTC program presented each of them with a collector’s coin from the city.
Bettencourt said the World War II veterans will also be given a free parking pass good throughout the city.
The event was attended by Congressman John Tierney, state Senator-elect Joan Lovely, Essex County District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett, former Mayor Mike Bonfanti, and several city councilors and School Committee members.
Bettencourt said the breakfast will become an annual event, with veterans of other wars receiving special recognition each year.
Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2675 or email@example.com.