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Veterans in Coös County honored

Local veterans participate in memorial services on Veteran’s Day last week. Matilda Brown. (click for larger version)
November 17, 2010
GORHAM — The night before Veteran's Day, students from the Gorham Junior High School after school program put on a spaghetti dinner for the veterans. For several weeks leading up to the event, the kids had worked on the decorations and had input on the planning of the event. The event was organized by Naomi Levesque and Wanda Riff. Ms. Riff said the event was organized because, "we wanted them to realize that Veteran's Day wasn't just a day off from school."

She said the program would start with lighting a candle in memory of the veterans. "The kids will do a flag folding, there'll be a powerpoint [by Gina Belanger] and a song to honor them [the veterans]. Up there is a table for POWs and MIAs and the kids are going to light a candle for the veterans who didn't make it home. The kids will be serving the veterans," Ms. Riff said.

"Last year was our first time doing something like this. We had a dessert. This year's celebration is bigger, with the actual meal," she explained.

When Ms. Riff gave final serving instructions to the students, she reminded them "This is about serving them and honoring them."

Richard Poulin, one of the attendees, was in the 18th Airborne Corps of Army, Fort Bragg, North Carolina from 1961-1964. He spoke a bit about his experience in the army. "I was in the Cuban missile crisis with John F. Kennedy and I was very proud to serve under him. When he told Khrushchev to get missiles out of Cuba, we were on a ship," he said. "I didn't see any war time, but I was ready. I worked in motor pool; the garage/repair shop and I jumped out of airplanes. It was fun."

Next door, at the American Legion, there were several people present who had served in the Navy. One was Don Barnes, who served from 1967-1972, although he did not go to Vietnam due to getting injured in a car accident. "I was with the naval weather service…pretty much state side. I was in, but I wasn't 'active' because of my injuries," he explained.

Burt Meyers was in the Navy as well. He served from 1948-1952. "I got to do a lot of traveling I wouldn't have gotten to do otherwise," he said of his time in the Navy. He saw China, the Philippines, Japan, and other ports. "When I was overseas, I had a chance to see the traditions of places like Japan. They're very clever. One thing I liked was seeing where the A-bombs were dropped. It was a disaster. It was not all cleaned up yet. In Nagasaki they had a museum of things that had been destroyed," he explained.

On Veteran's Day itself, the veterans in the area visited the monuments and paid respect to the men and women who gave their lives for our country.

The after school program in Gorham is part of a larger after school program called Project Youth and is offered to sixth through eighth graders. Most of the middle school is enrolled. There is also just a homework support part of the program.

Martin Lord Osman
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