The temperature was well below 40 degrees but visibility was higher than in past years on the summit.
ADAMS, Mass. — Northern Berkshire Legionnaires had a return to normalcy Sunday as they gathered at the top of Mount Greylock to remember their fallen comrades.
"This is our 87th year doing this, and we have missed this only twice," Adams American Legion member Donald Sommer said. "Once during the road construction and last year because of COVID ... we keep coming up here to remember our comrades."
Every year on the Sunday before Memorial Day, the past commanders gather early at the Adams American Legion before making their annual pilgrimage. All veterans are invited to join in on their convoy.
Having skipped a year because of the pandemic, this was an important gathering for the Legion members, many of whom were seeing each other for the first time in more than a year.
North Adams American Legion Post 125 Commander Mitchell Keil spoke at the summit and said it wasn’t always clear to him that the memorial atop Mount Greylock was a war memorial. He said this took on a new meaning once he returned to the area.
"On a return trip home from active duty some friends wanted to come up here, and that is when I realized it was actually a war memorial," he said. "It brought me great joy when I moved back home in 2013 and the beacon had been lit."
Reading from a plaque, Keil noted that the beacon can be seen from 70 miles and, more importantly, atop the mountain, one can see 90 miles out.
To Keil, this made him think of service members currently protecting the country, wherever they may be.
"We all have taken a vow to protect the constitution of the United States of America as service members and Legionnaires," he said. "We are here at the highest point in Massachusetts," he said. "I look over this whole area, and I know we are in good hands with people like that still looking over us."
He spoke more about the important bond veterans share.
"Brothers and sisters, mothers, father, sons, daughters, and I would say friends, but family is a better word," he said. "I am thankful to be here with you all honoring our fallen comrades."
After a ceremony and firing squad, a memorial wreath was set in the rotunda of the tower, originally built on the state's highest peak as a memorial to Massachusetts servicemen killed in World War I and later dedicated to all the state's military casualties.
Legion attendees sheltered in Bascom Lodge after the ceremony for a breakfast. The temperature was well below 40 degrees and the wind was whipping on the state's highest peak.
The convoy always stops at a spring midway up the mountain to have a beer or a cocktail to toast fallen comrades. North Adams' past commander, Dennis St. Pierre, said back when the group drove Model Ts up the mountain, they would stop at the spring to replenish their radiators. After that, it became a bit of a ritual to stop and have a toast.
Sommer added that they are always surprised at the conditions when they get to the summit.
"We have been up here and it has been cold like this. It has been snowing, raining and other times it has been sunny," he said.
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