Veteran Services Agent Charly Oliva stands at the podium in front of a mock-up of the sign at the bridge.
Reminder Publishing submitted photo

BELCHERTOWN — On May 26, community members, local leaders and state officials commemorated the dedication of the Route 9 highway bridge connecting Belchertown and Ware, now named the Kenneth J. Iwasinski Memorial Bridge in honor of Army Specialist Kenneth J. Iwasinski.

The event took place at the Quabbin Visitor Center and was attended by state Rep. Todd M. Smola (R-Warren), state Sens. Peter J. Durant (R-Spencer) and John Velis (D-Westfield), Belchertown’s Veteran Services Agent Charly N. Oliva and members of the Belchertown Select Board. State Rep. Aaron Saunders (D-Belchertown) sponsored the legislation for the bridge naming, filing An Act to Designate the Route 9 Highway Bridge Between Belchertown and Ware as the Kenneth J. Iwasinsk Memorial Bridge along with state Sen. Jake Oliveira (D-Ludlow).

“We picked the 26th given its proximity to Memorial Day and thought it was a bidding tribute for Kenny and his family to have the dedication that week,” said Saunders. “It was a fitting tribute to the sacrifice that Kenny had made as well as the continued sacrifice that his family makes going on without him.”

Iwasinski was a Belchertown resident who had the urge to serve his country and joined the Army in March 2006. He was deployed to Iraq and on Oct. 14, 2007, was killed in action at Baghdad at the age of 22. Iwasinski’s father, Nick, had reached out with the idea and had that particular bridge in mind. Saunders and Oliveira had discussions on the process and got to work on it.

“What this particular bridge dedication will do not only for residents of Belchertown, but across Western Mass. and anyone who uses Route 9,” Saunders explained, “They will know who Kenneth J. Iwasinski was and his sacrifice will never be forgotten. And that’s important for Kenny’s legacy, for his family’s and all of us who may not have gotten to know Kenny personally, but have a profound depth of gratitude for his sacrifice and be the one willing to say I’ll go.”

Miasha Lee
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