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Disinvited high school speaker appearing at Southwick VFW

SOUTHWICK – On Saturday, Southwick VFW Post 872 will host a Memorial Foyer Dedication ceremony open to the public, starting at 6 p.m.

The ceremony is focused on remembering and honoring three veterans from town who will be memorialized in the foyer of the Southwick Regional School on May 21 with plaques mounted on the wall as part of the memorial.

The plaques will include an image of the veterans, their years of life, the year they graduated high school, and any service information. There will be three veterans that will be a part of the Veterans Memorial at this time and they are as follows:

  • William Alamed Jr. (killed while fighting the Vietnam War)
  • Steven Wentworth (killed in the Beirut bombings in 1983)
  • Travis Fuller (killed in the Iraq War in 2005)

During the event at VFW Post 872, the community will also have the opportunity to view the three plaques. The VFW is asking the public to have silence when being in the viewing area of the plaques.

Kyle Reyes, a Southwick native who is the President and CEO of Silent Partner Marketing, was uninvited to a speaking engagement. (photo courtesy Silent Partner Marketing)

The event will also feature Kyle Reyes as the keynote speaker. The CEO of Silent Partner Marketing and a National Spokesman for Law Enforcement Today, Reyes was invited by VFW Post 872 to be the speaker.

“It’s an honor that the VFW put politics aside and continues to stand by what’s right,” said Reyes. “The VFW is an incredible organization and these guys demonstrate what true patriotism is all about.”

On April 25, the Southwick-Tolland-Granville Regional School District informed VFW Post 872 that Reyes would be uninvited as a guest speaker at the dedication ceremony on May 21 at the regional school.

Jennifer Willard,  Southwick-Tolland-Granville Regional School District Superintendent, did not respond to our requests for comment prior to deadline.

According to Troy Henke, who is the Chairman of the VFW, Superintendent Jen Willard told him that the administration didn’t feel comfortable with Reyes speaking to the students at the ceremony, due to some of his positions making some of the students feel unsafe or unincluded.

Originally, the speech that Reyes was going to deliver to students and faculty at the regional school was going to specifically center on the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. A graduate of Southwick High School, Reyes was going to talk about his experience of being in class when the news of the attacks came out.

For the speech at the VFW on Saturday, Reyes will be speaking about a number of different things.

“My speech is going to be much broader,” said Reyes.

The event at the VFW will also feature light refreshments at a low cost. For any information on the ceremony on May 12, contact VFW Post 872 at 413-569-9022.

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