Public servant’s overdue honor
In a time when communities struggle to control taxes and maintain services under the weight of personnel compensation and benefits, it’s refreshing to remember someone who actually lived up to the ideals of a true public servant.
Dracut’s Hector Berube certainly fits that now bygone standard.
On March 22, Berube, 93, will accept one of his town’s highest honors, the Joseph Bradley Varnum Award, given annually to a resident who personifies “civic and patriotic spirit … through their volunteerism to the Dracut community or demonstration of love of country through military service.”
After a Sun review of Berube’s military and civilian career, it would seem his life’s work served as the template for this distinct honor.
Thanks to NBC news commentator and author Tom Brokaw, we all now have a fuller appreciation of “The Greatest Generation,” those young men and women who served their country during World War II, and returned home with little fanfare to build careers and families.
Like countless others, Berube went from high school to enlisting in the Navy and serving in the South Pacific. While fighting on the Japanese stronghold of Iwo Jima, he witnessed the raising of the Stars and Stripes over that island in February 1945 — now an enduring image of this country’s courage under fire.
Hector Berube, through his 40 years of public service and devotion to family, seems to have walked out of a page from Brokaw’s book.
For decades, Berube — in his role as assessor, town clerk and tax collector — served as Dracut’s unofficial chief cook and bottle washer, by his selfless dedication to duty that extended far beyond business hours.
Obviously, postwar Dracut was a far simpler place — rural rather than suburban — where one dynamic individual could make a profound impact on a town’s quality of life.
And from witnessing the installation of the first traffic light, to being the first town employee to use a computer, Berube helped guide Dracut’s growth in ways not reflected in his paycheck.
It’s true, they don’t make them like Hector Berube anymore. Modern municipal government — where special interests vie for a piece of the pie — wouldn’t allow it.
However, we encourage Dracut residents to pack the selectmen’s meeting on March 22 to honor Hector Berube’s unique contributions to his hometown.