Veterans and military feted during patriotic celebration

Date: November 9, 2023


The North Shore Chamber of Commerce was honored to host the annual Salute to Veterans breakfast on Thursday, Nov. 9 at Danversport.

Together with our premier sponsor, UniCare, and our supporting sponsor, O’Donnell Funeral Services, we welcomed veterans and active military from throughout the North Shore for a celebration of patriotism and service.

Spc. Amy Fichera, an Army National Guard vocalist opened the program with a performance of the National Anthem as the Color Guard presented the colors.

Following an invocation by Chaplain Christopher Ziegler and a moment of silence for all fallen military, Major General Gary Keefe, Adjutant General Massachusetts National Guard, spoke.

General Keefe noted the importance of Veterans Day as a celebration of service and thanked employers for recognizing the sacrifice of military and veterans. He then asked all those in the audience who served to stand as he read the list of wars.  We are honored to have been joined by a veteran from World War II, who lives at Brooksby Village. General Keefe also thanked the Gold Star mothers and wives in the audience.

The large crowd listened attentively as keynote speaker Skip Soderholm, a retired Command Sergeant Major and decorated combat veteran with more than 25 years of service to the U.S. Army and U.S. Special Operations Command reflected on his service.  Soderholm spent 20 years serving in the Army’s elite Special Missions Unit (SMU) where he served as an operator, team leader, master breacher, instructor, Troop Sergeant Major, Operations Sergeant Major, and Command Sergeant Major. He has 11 combat deployments to the Middle East where he participated in more than 800 combat missions. Soderholm has been awarded 10 Bronze Star medals, twice for valor, along with three Purple Heart medals.

Following Soderholm’s speech, this year’s two Minuteman Service Award recipients were recognized. Joe LeBlanc, director of veterans services for North Andover and Boxford, and Paradise Dental Associates, LLC of Salem received the prestigious award.

Following a singalong of the military’s service songs, Spc. Fichera returned to the stage to close out the program with “God Bless America.”

Thank you to all of our veterans and military who attended the inspiring event. We would also like to thank the many businesses who sponsored this program, allowing veterans and military to attend for free.