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Veterans and students share stories at Belmont ceremony



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Father Charlie Boucher talks about his time in Dili, East Timor. Meghan Siegler. (click for larger version)
November 17, 2010
BELMONT — From a retired chaplain to a student whose brother is heading to Afghanistan, veterans and family members of those who have served observed Veterans Day at Belmont High School with a moving ceremony spanning generations.

Several students took the opportunity to speak during last Wednesday's ceremony. Megan McCarthy's brother enlisted in the Army after graduation and spend eight months in Germany before recently returning home. He'll soon be heading back overseas, to Afghanistan.

"I love him for everything he's done," McCarthy said, fighting back tears.

Erica Martel paid a tribute to her late grandfather who served in the Navy during the Korean War.

"He will always be in our hearts," Martel said. "Thank you, Grandpa, for serving our country."

Veterans from the community were invited to come speak at the ceremony as well. Bob Stevens of the American Legion in Belmont talked about his time aboard the USS Regulus, while Len Hooker spoke of his experiences in the Army pilot training program.

Father Charlie Boucher, a chaplain who retired five years ago, recalled the 20 years he spent boosting morale among soldiers and civilians.

"I entered at 42, which is the wrong way to do it," he joked.

In places like Dili, East Timor, Boucher helped deliver books to schools and food and medicine.

"It was hot and muggy, but you could tell the sailors were enjoying helping the kids," he said.

He said chaplains are by nature non-combative but are the "frontline people in morale welfare."

"I'm still proud of what I was able to do," Boucher said. "I actually wish I could go back and do this all over again."

Woody Fogg, also a member of the American Legion, served for 54 years and made friends for life, he said. He worked on Civic Action projects all over the world and got to learn about other cultures in a way tourists simply can't imagine.

"It was a privilege to serve, it really was," Fogg said.

Wrapping up the ceremony was a visit from David Cummings of Epsom, who started his Hoops for Heroes journey a year ago. His goal is to shoot 1 million hoops before Veterans Day 2011 to raise money for the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund. He averages 1,370 foul shots per day on his way to reaching this goal.

In Belmont, Cummings made 873 baskets to get his total up to 499,900. That left him with 100 hoops to the halfway point, which he planned to shoot the next day, on Veterans Day.

"I'm excited for the milestone tomorrow," he said.

Cummings said that listening to the stories he'd just heard from veterans put his daily concerns in perspective.

"It really is humbling," he said.

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