Edward Castonguay

Edward Castonguay

BLACKSTONE – The town of Blackstone will honor its veterans next Saturday, Nov. 13, with an afternoon-long celebration featuring guest speakers, an obstacle course and closing fireworks.

The event, scheduled for the Saturday following Veterans Day, will begin at noon at Roosevelt Park, located on St. Paul Street behind Town Hall. Opening ceremonies featuring remarks by Brig. Gen. Francis B. Magurn II of the Massachusetts National Guard will begin at 1 p.m.

Edward Castonguay, a retired Navy medic and Blackstone resident, will serve as master of ceremonies. The Memorial Day Parade Committee and Parks and Recreation Commission are sponsoring the Veterans Day event, which takes place after this year’s Memorial Day celebration was canceled due to concerns over COVID-19.

“It’s going to be a day to remember,” Castonguay said. “It’s not every day you have a general talk to you about what Veterans Day actually means.”

The guest of honor for the day will be Dennis Pimenta, the longtime Blackstone transportation coordinator and U.S. Army veteran who served in the Vietnam War. Pimenta was injured in combat and received the Purple Heart for his service.

State Sen. Ryan Fattman and Rep. Michael Soter will also participate in the afternoon’s events. Following the opening ceremonies, the Parks and Recreation Commission will host obstacle courses for children and adults. Food trucks and displays by different branches of the military will also be available throughout the afternoon.

At 5 p.m., participants will be able to enjoy a bonfire followed by closing ceremonies. The fireworks are scheduled to start at 6 p.m.

Castonguay, a Woonsocket native, recently retired at the rank of senior chief petty officer after 26 years of military service. During his military time, he served two tours in Iraq and worked as a hospital corpsman with the U.S. Marine Corps.

“We weren’t just there to fight a fight. We were also there to help the local Iraqi population. There was some reward in being able to help where it could be helped,” he said.

Castonguay said he thinks it’s important for people to understand what Veterans Day is all about. In contrast with Memorial Day, which honors individuals who died during military service, Veterans Day honors all veterans of all branches of the military.

“I think it’s extremely important. Not that we forget, because we don’t ever forget, but that we celebrate Veterans Day. What does that mean to people?” he said.

Castonguay said it’s especially meaningful to him as a Navy veteran to help coordinate the event for all the town’s veterans and residents after his years of military service.

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