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Gilford pauses to remember fallen soldiers

The flag is raised during Gilford’s Memorial Day ceremony. Donna Rhodes. (click for larger version)
May 27, 2009
Sunlight poured from the heavens as Gilford residents gathered on Memorial Day to honor those who gave their life in service to the nation.

Scout troops, representatives of the armed forces, veterans, the Knights of Columbus, fire and police departments, young and old all gathered together at the monument on Potter Hill Road to begin the day. Bag pipes, played by Rick Hewlett and Chuck Campbell of the Gilford Fire Department, could be heard echoing mournfully across the village and surrounding hillsides as they performed the solemn notes of "Amazing Grace."

Rev. Michael Graham of Gilford Community Church led the assembly in prayer. He reminded everyone of the meaning of the day, urging them to "remember and honor those who died serving their country."

Members of the military raised the flag above the town's monument. The Gilford High School Marching Band then performed "The Star Spangled Banner." Nearby a huge flag of the nation was held aloft by residents; its tattered cloth still billowing in the breeze as proof that the nation's flag does indeed still wave.

Bridget Eldridge and Delaney Andrews of Junior Girl Scout Troop 2529 were bestowed with the honor of laying a wreath at the monument before the parade set out on a march to nearby Pine Grove Cemetery.

Gilford resident Dana Aloise and his wife Thea looked on as the parade made its way by. Aloise served in the Korean Conflict as a member of the U.S. Army. He is also a former National Guard member and attends the ceremony each year, paying tribute to his fellow soldiers who died in combat. Memorial Day is quite meaningful to the Aloises, they said, and they were headed to a family cemetery after the Gilford ceremony to pay their respects to family members.

Active duty Army Staff Sgt. Alex Thurston marched in the parade, pulling his 18-month old daughter Ava in a patriotically decorated wagon. His mother, Karen Thurston, also marched proudly by his side. She carried a flag for the Blue Star Mothers, a support organization for families of service men and women that began in 1941. Thurston is president of the local chapter and was honored to march with her son as she reminded people of the families of those who have or are currently serving the nation as well.

Once everyone had gathered at the Pine Grove monument, Rev. Graham again prayed for those who were killed in action and a second wreath was laid.

"May we come to make of their deaths a meaning of peace and hope," he said. "Let peace come in a thousand tongues and a myriad of languages."

As some made their way to scheduled activities and cookouts for the day, many still wandered the cemetery and paused to visit the graves, remembering their fellow citizens.

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