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Veterans honored at Meredith ceremonies

97-year-old World War II veteran Claire Doyle sits with family friend Mary Hall during the annual Veteranís Day ceremony at Hesky Park. Erin Plummer. (click for larger version)
November 18, 2009
MEREDITH — Veterans of all generations were honored in Meredith at the annual Veterans Day Ceremony.

On Wednesday, members of American Legion Post 33 marched from the post on Plymouth Street to the front of the Meredith Public Library for a ceremony to recognize and honor veterans.

Veterans in the crowd were invited to stand behind the color guard during the ceremony.

Thy keynote speaker was veteran Thomas Mann, who said he has lived in Meredith for the past five-and-a-half years.

"I'm really proud to say everyone that I have met thus far in my travels around this great state have been very kind, very understanding, and very loving," Mann said.

Mann said people today have relaxed their vigilance in standing up against tyranny and fear.

"If today we have gained no truth, no knowledge about the human condition in this world today then we are at fault, we are to blame," Mann said. "Everyone wants to point the finger, but no one wants to take the blame."

Mann said people can take responsibility and offer future generations something better.

"Freedom comes with a very high price. Are you willing to pay the price; are you willing to pay the bill as those who have given their last full measure? Remember it costs nothing to smile on your neighbor. Let us honor our veterans by honoring ourselves."

Elliot Finn gave a brief history of Veterans Day, saying the word "veteran" comes from "vetus" which means old.

"If you're an old veteran, that's what it means," Finn said.

The holiday was declared in 1919 as Armistice Day to mark the end of World War I.

"When I was young there was no Veteran's Day, there was Armistice Day," Finn said.

In 1953, a shoe store owner named Al King, who was also a member of the American War Dads in World War II, pushed for legislation for a day honoring all veterans. In 1954, Armistice Day was changed to Veterans Day.

Finn said veterans are honored in other countries. In France wounded veterans get first choice of seats on public transportation and in Russia it is a wedding tradition for the bride and groom to visit a military ceremony.

"On this Veterans Day we all commemorate the veterans of all wars," said American Legion Post 33 Commander Bob Kennelly, saying many new veterans will be returning. "We make sure those men and women who did not return and whose who served, were veterans, and passed on, and those who return and who cannot cope are respected and those who cannot cope we can help any way we can."

The procession moved to Hesky Park, where flowers were laid at the POW/MIA memorial.

Bob Jones spoke about one POW/MIA in Afghanistan who Jones said has not been talked about by the government for fear of endangering him or upsetting his family. Jones said silence does not protect a POW/MIA from being in danger, and his family is already receiving support and information from the government.

"Those individuals who served our country should not be disposable," Jones said. "Today after this we look at it as ancient history. It's history today, a POW is being held in Afghanistan. Very few veterans call their representatives and sat 'Why do we not have more information?' POW/MIA, it's not Missing/Captured, Duty Status: Whereabouts Unknown. Veterans must sand up and take responsibility."

Holly Tetreault said she is soon to be the mother of a veteran as her son is serving in the Navy.

Tetreault said parents are concerned when their children are not at the table and those soldiers who are POW/MIA's are everyone's children.

"Call your senators and representatives and make them look for your son that's missing," Tetreault said.

A few older veterans were honored during the ceremonies. Melvin McMillan, a 100-year-old World War II veteran was in attendance as was Claire Doyle, a 97-year-old nurse who also served in World War II.

"It's been quite an experience." Doyle said of her appearances at Hesky Park and at the Veterans Day assembly at Inter-Lakes Elementary School. "Everyone that's involved in this war (World War II) needs to have this attention. There's many that have done a great deal more than I have and no one ever mentions it."

Martin Lord & Osman
Salmon Press
Town of Alexandria
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