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Meredith honors veterans' fight for our freedoms


November 17, 2010
MEREDITH — Honoring those who served, continue to serve, and service people who have passed on was the timeless message at the annual Veterans Day parade.

On Thursday, members of American Legion Post 33 marched to the front of the Meredith Public Library and were joined by veterans.

"I feel like I'm with family," said Legion member Elliott Finn. "I have all these brothers in arms with me."

Finn read a quote from Admiral Chester Nimitz about brothers in arms who fought and died together during World War II.

Rocco Lopardo, an 86-year-old World War II Air Force vet, spoke of the importance of honoring veterans.

"We are here this afternoon to honor the veterans standing here," Lopardo said. "Without the veterans, would we have a country as we know it?"

Lopardo said without veterans, there would be no freedom of religion, assembly, speech, and other freedoms that only service people could secure.

"It isn't the lawyer, the preachers, or the politicians who have given us these freedoms," Lopardo said. "It is the veterans that fought the wars."

Post 33 Commander Bob Kennelly dedicated the day to Carl Johnson, who served in World War II.

"We of the Legion thought of Carl as our number one veteran and there is no replacing him," Kennelly said.

Legion member Natt King placed a wreath on the World War II memorial in memory of Johnson.

Kennelly said the Legion is looking for new members, as the veterans of World War II through Vietnam are getting older.

"We need new blood, people involved in the conflicts from the '80s and '90s right through now," Kennelly said. "You paid your dues and it's time to recognize service to your country does not terminate with the end of military service."

When veterans join the legion they "have a place where they can go and be respected for (their) service."

The ceremony moved to Hesky Park where Bob Jones of the Northeast POW/MIA network recognized service people who were POW/MIA and often neglected because of the change the government gave to their status.

Jones also remembered Carl Johnson, a strong advocate for POW/MIA's in the legislature. Jones said members of the Northeast Network had a discussion with Johnson about flying the POW/MIA flag over the statehouse with the other flags. Johnson worked with other legislators to introduce a bill to fly the flag that passed and was signed by Gov. Jeanne Shaheen.

"Because of Sen. Carl Johnson the POW flag flies daily when the American flag is flying at the Statehouse," Jones said

Brian and Zachary Brennan of Gilmanton, ages 5 and 8 respectively, joined their mother Tracy Brennan in leading the Pledge of Allegiance. The boys' father and Tracy Brennan's husband Casey Brennan is an Army Staff Sergeant serving his fourth tour in Iraq.

"They and their mom are serving as well," Jones said.

"While you go about your day, a mother is raising two boys on her own, a mother is facing every day not knowing what the next phone call is," said Karen Thurston of the Gold Star Mothers of New Hampshire

Thurston told the audience about a Christmas tree that will go into Meredith Village Savings Bank with photos of veterans and their families.

"We're all one big family and we all need to recognize our veterans and support them," Thurston said.

Richard Downes, president of the Coalition of Families of Korean and Cold War POW/MIAs, said those who know POW/MIAs should keep their memories alive.

"Until we can find (them), I hope we can think of them," Downes said. "Take them home with you and keep them alive."

Downes also recalled going through his uncle's things and finding medals and items he used to plant explosives with.

Kennelly shared the story of Chester Pulley and how he made sure no man was left behind during the battle of the Chosin Reservoir.

"We have to take care of the ones that are in captivity and the ones that have been left behind," Kennelly said.

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