Honoring the homecoming article on YNN

Article about the event featuring “Here at Home” video  at the Norman Rockwell Museum Saturday June 23

Honoring the homecoming of troops past and present
By: Brandon Walker

Soldiers past and present are honored during a ceremony at the Norman Rockwell Museum. As our Brandon Walker reports, the ceremony also paid homage to Norman Rockwell’s paintings of troops returning home from combat.

STOCKBRIDGE, Mass. — They consider themselves two soldiers, sharing the story of thousands more. First Lieutenant Andrew Shaw, and his wife, Sergeant Kelsey Shaw honored Saturday as they are welcomed home.

“We just hope to represent each and every one of the veterans proudly, humbled and honored,” said Sgt. Kelsey Shaw.

The husband-wife duo served multiple tours of Iraq, returning from combat in 2005. While it’s been awhile, making sure every local troop is recognized is the goal of the Berkshire County Here at Home Committee… go to YNN article >

Sgt. Kelsey Shaw and First

June 24, 2012 7:10 AM
Sgt. Kelsey Shaw and First
Lt. Andrew Shaw show a wide range of emotions while being welcomed by The Here
at Home Committee and the Norman Rockwell Museum on the museum’s grounds in
Stockbridge in an event inspired by Rockwell’s 1945 ‘Happy Homecoming’ painting.
(Stephanie Zollshan / Berkshire Eagle Staff)

Sgt. Kelsey Shaw takes a
minute to hold her 7-week-old daughter Aida and to talk to her daughter Emma, 7,
as she and her husband, First Lt. Andrew Shaw, were welcomed by the Here at Home
Committee at the Norman Rockwell Museum on Saturday. (Stephanie Zollshan /
Berkshire Eagle Staff)

Sunday June 24, 2012STOCKBRIDGE — The moment a soldier returns from war to his own doorstep, his
family, neighbors — even the man fixing the roof — all react with unalloyed

That’s how Norman Rockwell depicted it in a 1945 painting. And that’s how a
local group devoted to welcoming home servicemen and women hope to continue to
commemorate military homecomings.

More than 65 years after he painted “The Homecoming,” the Saturday Evening
Post cover currently on loan to the Norman Rockwell Museum has inspired a
celebration of local husband-and-wife soldiers.

First Lt. Andrew Shaw and Sgt. Kelsey Shaw, both 31, arrived by police escort
to the Stockbridge museum Saturday afternoon. They were greeted by a path of
waving American flags and dozens of onlookers, including their four young
children, all there to “officially” welcome them home.

“I’m absolutely spellbound,” said Kelsey Shaw, holding her infant daughter as
she spoke. “The people here thanking us, and the smiles on their faces and
flag-waving, it’s truly touching.”

The Shaws, who live in Lee, returned from duty in the Army’s 283rd
Transportation Company in Iraq between 2004 and 2005. But there’s no time limit
on when it’s appropriate to honor soldiers’ commitment to their country,
according to Ro sanne Frieri, director of veteran services for Pittsfield and a
founder of the Here at Home Committee, which has organized 20 similar events for
local soldiers since it formed in 2007.

In a brief ceremony at the museum, Col. Daniel Swift of Pittsfield spoke to
the crowd about country’s changing reactions to returning veterans — how they
were lauded after World War II, and maligned after the Vietnam War. “We didn’t
have an outpouring. We didn’t have community support,” he said.

Nowadays, honoring warriors is the public’s duty, he said: “Soldiers like
Andy and Kelsey don’t look for notoriety. It’s the community’s responsibility to
come to gether to

Tech Sgt. Shane Willis, who
served three tours in Iraq and will soon be deployed again to Afghanistan, holds
Shane Jr., 2, as he waits to welcome home the Shaws on Saturday. (Stephanie
Zollshan / Berkshire Eagle Staff)


Kelsey Shaw averred that she joined the Army not for recognition, but because
she felt it was the right thing to do. She and her husband are both immigrants
— Kelsey from Thailand and Cam bodia; Andrew from Canada — a heritage that
makes them all the more proud to serve the United States.

“Because of my immigration status I value this country even more,” she said.

American Homecomings

Love song inspired elaborate welcome home celebrations

By Ned Oliver / The Berkshire Eagle |
Posted on May 16, 2012 – American Homecomings

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — They’re ready to rally at a moment’s notice.

When word gets to Berkshire County’s Here at Home Committee that a soldier is returning from service overseas, it sets off a flurry of emails, phone calls and Facebook messages.

The mission? To muster as many people as possible to help provide the returning serviceman or woman the hearty — and surprise — welcome home celebration they believe every soldier deserves.

Rosanne Frieri, co-founder of the Here at Home Committee, hugs Pittsfield resident and U.S. Army Specialist Jacob Scace, who returned home from Afghanistan on March 30.
And with only a day’s preparation, they deliver — usually with a full color guard standing at attention, a plaque of appreciation at the ready and a crowd of cheering well-wishers and family members.

“It’s a powerful moment, standing in front of a soldier’s house, and you’re watching the parents, and they’re getting so emotional and are so ready to see their child. … I wish everyone could see it,  because the feeling of patriotism that comes alive in your heart when you do, I have goosebumps just thinking about it,” said Mary Verdi, a local singer-songwriter.

To date, the group has put together 19 welcome back events for returning Berkshire veterans since Verdi founded the group in 2007 with Rosanne Frieri, a veteran herself who at the time had just started her job as the city’s director of veterans services.

In addition to the ceremony, the group also sponsors a billboard featuring each returning soldier’s picture and a note thanking them for their service.

The idea for the committee was actually born from a song written by Verdi, called “Here at Home.” It’s a love song to a soldier that Verdi was inspired to write after she heard the story of an Iraq war veteran who was having a hard time readjusting to civilian life.

The song is popular, especially among members of the armed services and their family members. Verdi actually performed it at the Pentagon last year, and she says she still gets emails from people around the country who have come across it and been touched.

But Verdi said she wanted to do more with the song than just sing it. A mutual friend put her in touch with Frieri. Together, they hatched the Here at Home Committee and funded it with sales of Verdi’s CD.

Frieri said she immediately appreciated the need to systematically thank Berkshire County soldiers for their service.

“I’m old enough to remember a little bit about Vietnam,” Frieri said. “I had friends who served and I heard the stories. They weren’t welcomed back.”

For some local veterans, the negativity surrounding military service isn’t just a relic from the ’70s.

Jacob Scace, an Army specialist from Dalton who was the subject of group’s latest ceremony in March, said it’s difficult to describe how good a simple act of appreciation makes him feel.

“To me, there’s nothing that could give you a better high than somebody coming up and shaking your hand and understanding what you’ve been through,” Scace said.

See original article The Denver Post American Homecomings
To reach Ned  Oliver:noliver@berkshireeagle.com